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Ambrogio Lorenzetti, A Group of Four Poor Clares

Key facts
Full title A Group of Four Poor Clares
Artist Ambrogio Lorenzetti
Artist dates active 1319; died 1348/9
Date made 1320s
Medium and support Fresco with areas of secco
Dimensions 70.4 × 63.4 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1878
Inventory number NG1147
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Group of Four Poor Clares
Ambrogio Lorenzetti

This is a fragment of a fresco that was discovered under whitewash in 1855. It shows a group of nuns; the central figure has a gentle gaze and gracefully places her hand across her breast. It is in good condition but some of the colours have faded. Traces of brown paint remain in the tunics, identifying the nuns as belonging to the order of Poor Clares, whose habit was brown. The order was founded by Saint Clare, a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi, in the thirteenth century. The nuns are called ‘Poor Clares’ because they take vows to live lives of poverty and penance. The fragment may have belonged to a scene showing Saint Francis handing the Rule (the regulations of the religious order) to the Franciscan friars and Poor Clare nuns gathered around him. The fresco decorated the wall of the chapter house of the church of San Francesco in Siena. Ambrogio Lorenzetti excelled in this technique and his wall-paintings decorate significant Sienese institutions including the Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall.

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