MASTER OF GRISELDA (working in Siena from 1490 to 1500) - inv. 1126
The painting shows a heroine from Antiquity, Artemisia, who lived in Greece in the 4th century BC. According to Valerius Maximus and Aulus Gellius, 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 is about to drink her husband’s ashes mixed with her tears; on the left, she supervises the building of his tomb, the so-called mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The painting is therefore a celebration of love and 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 Sienese Piccolomini family, probably for an important wedding officiated in 1492.
The style refers to Sienese art of the late 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 attributed to a Sienese painter, known by the name of ‘Master of the Story of Griselda’. His figures have elongated limbs, dance-like movements and a great refinement. Notice here her 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.