Luca di Tomme: A Sienese Fourteenth-Century Painter

By Sherwood A. Fehm Jr. | Go to book overview


Although the precise dates of Luca di Tommè's birth and death are so far unknown, his activity as both a painter and a citizen of his native Siena can be followed reasonably well between 1356 and 1390 through the surviving documents and paintings.1. Documents referring to Luca--approximately fifty in number--are found principally in the two major archives in Siena: the Archivio di Stato (hereafter referred to as ASS) and the Archivio dell'Opera del Duomo in Siena ( AODS). From these we can surmise that Luca was approximately twenty years old in 1356, and died sometime after 1390 in his late fifties or early sixties.

The first attempt to collect, transcribe, and interpret documents referring to artists who had worked in Siena was completed by Ettore Romagnoli in 1835. This author's work remains in manuscript form and is now in the Biblioteca Comunale in Siena. Romagnoli's work, which includes a section on Luca di Tommè, provides the basis for all subsequent documentary studies.2. In turn, the first published collection of Sienese documents was compiled by Gaetano Milanesi, and appeared in 1854.3. A wealth of evidence is contained in Milanesi's enormous study. His transcriptions, however, are often incomplete and inaccurate, while many documents alluded to in his notes lack precise or even adequate identification. His material on Luca di Tommè is no exception. In spite of this, it has been possible to identify and verify all the documents published or referred to by Milanesi regarding the artist. A more thorough study of Luca was undertaken during the 1920s by Pèleo Bacci, the archivist and superintendent of monuments in Siena. Only a third of Bacci's work was ever published.4. Work in the Sienese archives has brought forth a number of items, principally from the latter period of Luca's life, to add to the information initially presented by Bacci.

Surviving documents referring to Luca di Tommè fall into two distinct groups. The greater portion deals with his private and public affairs as a Sienese citizen, while a smaller group relates to his activity as an artist. Together, both portions provide an insight into the artist's life in Siena and help to establish a chronology for his activities in that city.

Luca is first referred to at the time of the foundation of the painters' guild in Siena (Document 1).5. In all probability the statutes of this organization were approved by the Commune in 1356. During the preceding year, the government of the Nine, an oligarchy of wealthy burghers who had governed Siena for some seventy years, was replaced and a new ruling coalition of nobles and artisans was formed. This change led to a more representative form of government, and here the artisans' assumption of a more active role in state affairs was most likely an immediate impetus for the formation of, for example, the painters' guild. Luca di Tommè is listed among the founding masters of this association. It is likely, then, that he was already an established artist by 1356.6. There is, however, no indication of how long prior to this he had been in the upper ranks of Sienese painters.7.

Luca di Tommè is the standardized modern form of the artist's name. In the documents it appears variously as Lucha di Tomè, Luce Tonis, or Lucha di Tonè. Tommè is the peculiarly Sienese diminutive of Tomasso. I have found no mention of Luca's father, Tommè di Nuto, whose name is known to us only from Document 20a.
Romagnoli, Siena, Biblioteca Comunale, MS. L.II. 1- 9, Biografia Cronologica de Bellartisti Senesi. His account of Luca di Tommè is found in vol. II, fols. 249-60.
Milanesi, 1854, vol. I, p. 28 n. 1. Lusini, 1911, vol. I, pp. 242 n. 36, 315 n. 19, and 320 n. 67, also gathered together a number of notices regarding Luca, and these are noted here.
Bacci, 1927, pp. 51-62.
This important compilation of statutes and register of masters provides insight into the structure of a medieval guild, as well as a list of the painters at work in Siena in 1356, 1389, 1414-17, and 1428. The statutes were corrected and approved for the Commune by the jurist Richo de Morrano of Modena on February 19, 1356.
The order in which the painters were enrolled seems to have been significant. The names of the senior and better- known artists appear at the beginning of this list, as well as that of 1389.
Although the statutes of the Sienese painters' guild survive intact, no age requirements are specified. As the minimum apprenticeship period was probably five years, Luca could hardly have been younger than the age of twenty in 1356. For a discussion of the concept of age during this period see Gilbert, 1967, pp. 7-32.


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Luca di Tomme: A Sienese Fourteenth-Century Painter
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I- The Early Works (1356-1361) 6
  • Chapter II- Niccolò Di Ser Sozzo and Luca (1362-1365) 16
  • Chapter III- The Major Phase (1366-1373) 31
  • Chapter IV- The Later Works (1374-Ca. 1390) 44
  • Catalogue 52
  • Documents 191
  • Bibliography 205
  • Photographic Credits 214
  • Index of Illustrations 215
  • Index 217


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