QUERCIA, Priamo della
(documented 1426-1467 in Siena)

Agostino Novello Installing the First Rector

1442
Fresco, height c. 450 cm
Pellegrinaio, Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala, Siena

This fresco is located in the 4th bay on the east wall of the Pellegrinaio in the Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala. The Pellegrinaio is a fourteenth-century room which took the form of a long vaulted hall situated on the ground floor of the hospital.

The role of Priamo in the decoration of the Pellegrinaio is altogether unclear. Although some suspected that he was only Domenico di Bartolo's assistant, his architectural prospect reveals him to have been an experienced painter of architectural forms, whereas his figural repertoire is somewhat old-fashioned and his style of painting in general somewhat wooden.

This fresco is a depiction of the Augustine monk Agostino Novello installing the first rector of the hospital, an event that took place early in the fourteenth century. A painted arch, decorated with twining vines studded with putti, incorporates monochrome statues of Adam and Eve in niches at the bottom. In the middle distance of the scene, which is divided into three spaces by the architecture, are various representations of Christian charity. In the background we can see the steps of the cathedral (opposite the hospital) and a portion of its façade.

The complete description of the frescoes in the Pellegrinaio can be found in the section of Domenico di Bartolo, who executed six of the surviving eight frescoes of the hall.




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