Nativity of the Virgin (Pietro Lorenzetti)

Nativity of the Virgin (Pietro Lorenzetti)

Artist Pietro Lorenzetti

Date 1342

Movement Proto-Renaissance

Medium Tempera on panel

Dimensions 6’.5” x 5’11.5”

Housed at Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena


This was commissioned as yet another altarpiece for the cathedral at Siena, and takes the use of architectural devices further than its predecessors. Making use of its triptych format, Lorenzetti adds two very realistic columns that divide the scene into two, giving the viewer a sense that they are peering into a real-life event; this effect is emphasized by the fact that the triptych frame closely matches the architecture of the painting, making it difficult to distinguish where one ends and the other begins; the weight of the figures promotes this three dimensionality even more.