ANDREA di Vanni d'Andrea
(b. ca. 1332, Siena, d. 1414, Siena)
Italian painter and illuminator. He was one of the foremost members of the political faction that ruled Siena from 1368 to 1385, he was elected to the Grand Council and sent as Sienese ambassador to the pope at Avignon and Naples. His career of painting fresco cycles and altarpieces for the city's cathedral and churches is also well documented. His art, however, was less noteworthy, his style remained true to the ever popular though increasingly unimaginatively interpreted idioms he had assimilated as a young man from Simone Martini's artistic heirs. His small-scale early works of the Virgin and Child (Oxford, Ashmolean; Berlin, Gemäldegalerie), which draw on the figure types of the Master of the Palazzo Venezia Madonna (fl c. 1350), display soft contours, fairly light skin tones and light brushwork. The Child in particular possesses a degree of appealing spontaneity and a sense of arrested movement that is totally lacking in the later series of large panels, such as those to be found in the churches of S Donato, S Francesco and S Stefano, all in Siena.
With his brother Lippo Vanni, Bartolo di Fredi, and Taddeo di Bartolo, Andrea Vanni introduced early Sienese art into the fifteenth century. His chief authenticated work is a large polyptych in the Church of Santo Stefano at Siena. This painting depicts the Virgin enthroned between Sts. Stephen, James the Less, John the Baptist, and Bartholomew; in the niches above are the figures of the Evangelists, while several saints and an Annunciation are painted in five higher projecting compartments. The small heads and the gestures betray a certain stiffness. A very agreeable and carefully painted picture is a Madonna and Child in the Church of San Michele. A Birth of the Virgin, representing James, Catherine, Bartholomew, and Elizabeth, in the gallery at Siena, is the joint work of Vanni and Bartolo di Fredi, who often worked together both in art and politics. A Crucifixion with two saints by Vanni is in the Academy at Siena, an Annunciation in two panels in the Palazzo Saraceni, and a St. Sebastian at the museum. Vanni celebrated St Catherine in the frescoes of San Domenico at Siena. He also painted at Naples.