Master of the story of Griselda - inv. 1126

Master of the story of Griselda (active late 15th century)

1498 c.
87,8 x 46,3 cm
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 1126

Black Room
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The painting shows a heroine from Antiquity, Artemisia, who lived in Greece in the 4th century BC. According to Valerius Maximus and Pliny the Elder, she married her brother Mausolus and, after his death devoted her life to honouring his memory, as shown in the background. On the right Artemisia prepares to drink her husband’s ashes, mixed with her tears; on the left she directs building work on his tomb, the so-called mausoleum, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The painting is therefore a celebration of love and conjugal fidelity and was part of a cycle of heroic figures from Antiquity (Alexander the Great, Scipio Africanus, Tiberius Graccus, Claudia Quinta, Sulpicia, Eunosto of Tanagra), commissioned by the noble Piccolomini family, probably for an important wedding officiated in 1492.
The style refers to Sienese art of the end of the 15th century, particularly to that of Luca Signorelli, who worked in the Tuscan town at the end of the 1480s, strongly influencing local artists. This picture of Artemisia is in fact attributed to a Sienese painter, known by the name of ‘Master of the Story of Griselda’. His figures are distinguished by their elongated limbs, their dance-like movement and great refinement. Notice here the elegant pose, with bent head and modestly downcast eyes, the movement of the transparent veil, her graceful hand holding the cup of ashes between two fingers.
The panel has been cut down on its four sides and in the lower part the classical base has been removed; this acted as the figure’s pedestal, almost as though she were a living statue.