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SIENA Art and religion - Church of Sant’Agostino

Past the arch at the end of Via San Pietro, the square known as Prato di Sant’Agostino is dominated by the gothic Church of Sant’Agostino. Although the original church dates back to the 13th century, it has undergone a number of modifications since, the most important of which was carried out by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli in 1755 after the building was devastated by fire.

The entrance to the church is from the hall of the Collegio Tolomei. The single nave interior gives an extraordinary impression of light and space, as well as containing a number of important works of art. The second altar to the right contains a Crucifixion and Saints by Perugino (1506). A small doorway leads from here into the Piccolomini Chapel, which contains a Madonna and Child With Angels and Saints fresco by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Above the altar of the same church is a large canvas of The Epiphany (1485), one of Sodoma’s finest works, alongside a 1482 Slaughter of the Innocents by Matteo di Giovanni and a particularly fine polyptych by Simone Martini depicting Beato Agostino Novello and Four of His Miracles.

Among the other works worthy of note in the church is a wooden Madonna and Child, probably of the Senese School; The Temptations of St Anthony by Rutilio Manetti and a Baptism of Constantine by Francesco Vanni.

The second chapel to the right of the presbytery contains two recently discovered frescoes that have been attributed to Francesco di Giorgio, depicting the Nativity of Mary and the Nativity of Jesus.

The Collegio Tolomei is adjacent to the church and opens onto the Prato di Sant’Agostino. Turning left out of the square one reaches the Piano dei Mantellini, a square that is dominated by the 14th century Church of Santa Maria del Carmine.

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