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The Story of Griselda, Part I: Marriage
Master of the Story of Griselda
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This panel, the first of a series of three in the National Gallery’s collection, shows part of the story of Griselda, a young peasant woman. We see her meet and then marry the Marquis Gualtieri di Saluzzo, who would go on to put her through a series of tests. Her loyalty throughout the ordeal earned her fame and respect, and she became a model of wifely virtue.

At the left, Griselda, a pot on her head, is on her way to fetch water from the well. The Marquis, riding an elegant white horse, sees her and falls in love instantly. To the right, we see Griselda stripped naked, the Marquis handing her new clothes to wear for their wedding. In the centre, the two are married in front of a structure that looks like a triumphal Roman arch, topped with horses and male figures; Griselda is dressed in expensive gold-woven fabrics that match those of the Marquis.

Key facts
Artist Master of the Story of Griselda
Artist dates active about 1490 - 1500
Full title The Story of Griselda, Part I: Marriage
Series Spalliera Panels with the Story of Patient Griselda
Date made about 1494
Medium and support Oil with some tempera on wood
Dimensions 61.6 x 154.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1874
Inventory number NG912
Location in Gallery Room 53
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Spalliera Panels with the Story of Patient Griselda

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These three long panels illustrate the story of a young peasant woman, Griselda, as told in The Decameron, a fourteenth-century collection of novellas by the Italian author Boccaccio. They were likely destined to decorate the chambers (or camera) of a newly-wed couple, since the tale celebrates a woman’s loyalty and marital fidelity, against the odds.

It is very likely that these panels were commissioned at the time of the marriages of two brothers of the noble Sienese Spannocchi family, which took place in January 1494. Their father, Ambrogio, was the papal banker to Pius II Piccolomini, also from Siena.

Our panels have been connected with two others of a similar shape and size at Longleat House, Wiltshire, which depict ancient leaders Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. They are attributed to the workshop of the Florentine painters Domenico and Davide Ghirlandaio. The picture of Alexander the Great included the Spanocchi coat of arms.

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