The Cassioli Museum of Asciano first opened its doors in 1991, thanks to the noteworthy collection of paintings bequeathed by the Cassioli family, originally from Asciano. The museum was refurbished in 2007 to accommodate numerous other works of art provided by the Duccio di Buoninsegna Artistic High School of Siena.
This is the only museum in the province to be devoted entirely to Sienese painting from the 19th century. It is divided into two sections. The first contains sketches and finished works by the leading figures of the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) in Siena, under the direction of Luigi Mussini from 1851 to 1888. These artists, including Angelo Visconti, Cesare Maccari, Pietro Aldi and many others, chose to depict scenes from the ancient world and from classical mythology, while also proving to be astute observers of their own epoch.
Luigi Mussini, a staunch supporter of Purist aesthetics in resistence to the advent of Realism, sought to give new life to a “Sienese School”, drawing inspiration from the way the Renaissance system of workshops was organized.
The second part of the museum is dedicated to the artistic career of Amos Cassioli, featuring works the artist painted in Florence where he had set up residence and where he trained is son Giuseppe, who went on to become known as an eclectic painter, as an architect, and most of all as a scultpor.
Pietro Selvatico once described Amos Cassioli as “the first among Tuscan portrait-painters”because of the artist’s ability to probe the psychology of his subjects. This gift for insight is evident in the works found within the last rooms of the exhibit, from the intense, Ingres-style Ritratto di signora (Portrait of a Lady) to the later piece, Ritratto di giovane signora (Portrait of a Young Lady).
Cassioli garnered substantial public recognition for his large-scale depictions of historic events, such as his frescoes of La Battaglia di San Martino (The Battle of San Martino) and La Battaglia di Palestro (The Battle of Palestro), painted from 1884 to 1886 as part of the intricate decoration of the Sala del Risorgimento in the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena. Following on his success in creating monumentally sized historic paintings, Cassioli also devoted himself to smaller works depicting similar subject matter, and to evocative tableaux showing daily life in the age of the Ancient Greeks and Romans—a genre much in vogue among the bourgeoisie at the time. Fine examples are Lo studio dello scultore romano (Study of the Roman Sculptor) and La moglie di Putifarre (Potiphar’s Wife), an opulent, sensual, womanly nude who is the very symbol of seductiveness.