The altar-frontal portraying Saint Michael and episodes from his life, attributed to Coppo di Marcovaldo, can be rightly considered one of the most famous works in the Museum of San Casciano, and one of the most important tokens of cultural and artistic contacts between Florence and Siena in the 13th century.
Coppo, a Florentine painter compelled to live in Siena due to his imprisonment after the defeat at Montaperti in 1260, framed the solemn figure of the Archangel seated on a throne holding a spear and a cruciferous globe, along with six episodes from his legend.
This panel painting, formerly attributed to a certain Master of Vico l’Abate, is significantly similar to other works by the same artist realized before the battle of Montaperti, allowing the work to be precisely dated at the sixth decade of the 13th century.
The Museum of San Casciano also houses the first known work of Ambrogio Lorenzetti, dating from 1319. The Virgin and Child, coming from the church of Sant’Angelo at Vico l’Abate, like the altar-frontal by Coppo di Marcovaldo, is surprising for the originality of solutions adopted to go beyond the typical depiction of the subject, as well as for the new techniques acquired in Florence and inspired by Arnolfo di Cambio, who was engaged in decorating the façade of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore at that time.
In addition to the influence of Giotto, especially apparent in the plasticity of the forms, the figure of the Christ Child, inspired by the decoration of Nicola Pisano’s pulpit in the Cathedral of Siena, shows a very natural pose, resulting from the widely differing styles elaborated by Ambrogio Lorenzetti.