This is Barna da Siena

By Gwylym Owen

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Barna da Siena, also known as Berna di Siena, was presumed to be a Sienese painter active from practically 1330 to 1350.

The painter was first referred to by Lorenzo Ghiberti in his I Commentarii (mid 15th century) as a Sienese painter who painted several works in Tuscany, including many stories from the Old Testament in San Gimignano. Giorgio Vasari referred in the first edition of his Vite (1550) to the Sienese painter ‘Berna’ who was blamed for frescos of Old Testament scenes in the Collegiata di San Gimignano. In the second edition of the Vite (1568) Vasari only amalgamated the artiste with the New Testament scenes in that church, dating them to the very subside of Barna’s life, apparently to 1381.

Because of the broad variations all the rage and character in the New Testament paintings in San Gimignano it is believed that they were the enactment of three or four positive painters. It is supplementary believed that Vasari’s dating of the New Testament scenes was incorrect as upon stylistic grounds they should be obsolete to the era 1330-1340s. Because of these problems in the same way as the identification of the artiste a majority of scholars now put up with that ‘Barna’ is a historical fiction. This conclusion has generated various theories on the authorship of the San Gimignano frescoes. The view is that the Collegiata frescoes and extra panel paintings credited to the artiste are all closely similar to the action of partners of Simone Martini and the circle of Lippo Memmi.

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