The Civic and Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art of Montalcino is housed within a portion of the former convent of St. Augustine, which dates back to the 15th century and stands beside the Church of Saints Philip and James. The restoration in 1977 made it possible to unite the preexistent Diocesan and Civic Museums and to create an environment suitable for the display of the large altarpieces, panel paintings and groups of sculptures which, arranged in chronlogical order, lead visitors on a long, compelling journey through the art produced in this city over the centuries.
The ample and thorough collection makes it possible to discover art created here from the Middle Ages through to the historic 1900s, with particular attention paid to the Sienese painting tradition of the 1400s and 1500s, as represented by the works of masters such as Bartolo di Fredi, Simone Martini, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Giovanni di Paolo and Sano di Pietro.
Particularly noteworthy among the varied works are the many painted wooden sculptures that were created by leading artists of the time, including Jacopo della Quercia and Francesco di Valdambrino, in connection with specific liturgical necessities of the Middle Ages.
The wooden statues create a special atmosphere of sacredness and provide visitors with a sense of the richness of the art in churches and chapels in Montalcino and the surrounding countryside.
Among masterpieces such as the Crucifix by Giambologna (1529-1608), there are also also breathtaking displays of Medieval ceramics, fabrics, goldwork, miniatures and two volumes of an illuminated Bible from the ancient abbey, Abbazia di Sant’Antimo, dating back to the 12th century.
A small room at the end is dedicated to the fascinating paintings of the Montalcino artist Arturo Luciani (1861-1936), who lived in Brazil for many years, working as a painter and photographer.
An impressive collection of archaeological artifacts, conserved thanks to the untiring work of volunteers, is kept in the Archaeological Section of the Civic and Diocesan Museum, where visitors may retrace the archaeological history of Montalcino from prehistoric times through to the Etruscan Period.
Crucifix, Francesco di Valdambrino (1410-1415): a work of sophisticated Renaissance beauty, showing the pain-filled humanity of Christ. The face appears not racked but almost serene in acceptance of death.
Madonna con Bambino, San Giuseppe e San Francesco (Madonna with Child, St. Joseph and St. Francis), Marco Pino (1521-1582): a masterpiece by Beccafumi’s renowned student, portrays the Virign as an aristocratic lady whose body is at once shapely and captivating.
Crucifix in bronze, Giambologna (1529-1608): the famous Flemish artist created this work that is outstanding not only because of its masterful rendering of anatomical details but also because of the perfect proportions of its forms.
Montalcino museums. Archaeological, Medieval, Modern Collection
Via Ricasoli, 31
Tel. (+39) 0577 286300
from 10th July 2021
every day, 10.30am to 7pm
Montalcino, a fortified town, has throughout history been noted as a place that, thanks to its isolated position, could be defended effectively. The Sienese were well aware of this fact in 1361 when they built the Rocca(stronghold) and later found refuge there during the war against Florence. Indeed, they re-established their Republic here for four years, from 1555 to 1559, after fleeing the siege and capture of their home city by imperial troops. The town, which today is still partially girded by ancient walls, boasts many churches and noteworthy buildings. The Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), flanked by a loggia and arches, is the result of a “restoration in period style” from the 1930s. Standing on the same piazza is the Chiesa di Sant’Egidio (Church of St. Giles), also known as the “rectory of the Sienese” who built it in 1325. The Duomo (Cathedral), situated in the higher part of Montalcino, sits on the remains of an ancient parish church and was completely rebuilt between 1818 and1832 in Neoclassical style by the Sienese architect Agostino Fantastici. La chiesa di S. Agostino (Church of St. Augustine), built during the second half of the 1300s, underwent significant restructuring during the Baroque Period. As part of radical renovations at the beginning of the 1900s, the late 17th-century modifications were removed and the older original frescoes by Sienese artists of the 14th century were once again brought to light along the side walls and in the choir.