The Terzo di Città District – The Pinacoteca Nazionale
The most densely populated and richest area in the 14th century, the Terzo di Città district is still the religious and secular heart of modern day Siena. The district runs from Piazza del Campo, the city’s political hub and where the history of Siena has been written over the centuries, to the Croce del Travaglio meeting point of the town’s three main streets and up to the Piazza del Duomo, dominated by the imposing Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
Over the centuries the Terzo di Città has expanded in different directions, first in the 12th century towards the Campo, then in the middle of the 13th century to the south of Colle di Santa Maria, then towards the left flank of the Valle di Fontebranda, with the largest expansion finally taking place in the 15th century.
From Piazza del Duomo down Via del Capitano and on further down Via San Pietro, the visitor will find himself in front of the late-gothic facade of Palazzo Buonsignori, built in the second half of the 15th century with a ground floor sheathed in stone and the upper two floors in brick. Elegant trifore windows open up into the facade of the upper two floors and the building is surmounted by crenellations.
Since 1932 this has been the seat of the Pinacoteca Nazionale, one of Italy’s largest art collections composed chiefly of Senese School works from the 13th to the 17th century. The collection was started by the Abbot Giuseppe Ciaccheri towards the end of the 18th century and has grown ever since through bequests and donations. The Italian State assumed ownership of the collection in 1930 and it was definitively installed in Palazzo Buonsignori two years later. Since 1977 the collection has also included the Spannocchi Collection, made up chiefly of northern and Flemish masters such as Dürer.
In 1977 the Pinacoteca opened its Sala delle Sculture sculpture gallery, which includes works by Senese masters from the 14th and 15th centuries.
The Senese School works within the collection are entirely documented and displayed in chronological order. They include works of general importance and at times of exceptional quality. The second floor of the Pinacoteca contains the Senese Primitives and painters from the 14th and 15th century, with the first floor featuring artists from the second half of the 15th century onwards, as well as a number of rooms containing works not of the Senese School. The ground floor contains a small collection of sculptures, cartoons and drawings, as well as the deposits.
The limited space available here makes it impossible to begin listing the numerous masterpieces worthy of note in this collection. Let it suffice to list some of the great artists featured: Duccio di Buoninsegna, Simone Martini, the Lorenzetti brothers, Sodoma, Beccafumi and many more.