The canvas depicts St. Ansanus, one of the four patron saints of Siena together with Crescentius, Victor and Savino, baptizing a little girl. In the beginning of the 4th century AD the saint was the first evangelizer in the city and he gave baptism to the people of Siena.
Young Ansanus is depicted standing and holding Balzana, the city banner, in his hand which can be recognized for the traditional colors; white and black. With his right hand he is pouring water out of a bowl on little girl’s head at his feet.
The girl is covered with a white cloth which she is holding on her chest. She is looking at the observer and her dark hair is decorated with flowers.
Behind her there is another child, perhaps her brother as the two have very similar features. The boy is dressed elegantly wearing a ruffled collar and yellow and white little jacket. His hands are clasped in prayer and perhaps he as well is waiting his turn to receive the holy sacrament.
There is also a man and a woman who are probably their parents and another girl who is little older than the other children. She has turned her back on the saint and she is looking at the kneeling woman, pointing at the center of the scene with her finger.
In the background there is a little square in front of the entrance of an ancient church of Sant’Ansano in Castelvecchio with a lot of people standing or sitting and the Porta Aurea, which doesn’t exist anymore.
The painting seems to represent a scene of a Sienese family baptizing their children that may have been linked to some miraculous event which involved the baptism of the child.
The painting is inserted in a carved golden wooden frame and it dates back around 1580 which can be deduced also from the clothing of the characters.
The canvas comes from the Sanelli collection in Siena where it was passed around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. It was then passed to the Carlo Orsi Gallery in Milan until it was acquired by Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena in September 2007.
Vincenzo Rustici was born in Siena in 1556 and he grew up in highly artistic environment. His father Lorenzo, known as Rustico, was also a painter as well as his older brother, Cristofano. For this reason he was called “il Rustichino”.
He also studied with Alessandro Casolani, who was his brother-in-law. The two painters collaborated and when Casolani died Rustici completed his Resurrection of Lazzaro for the Basilica of San Francesco in Siena.
His painting often had a religious subject and he was well-known for the views of Siena he painted around 1585, such as Bulls in the Campo di Siena and Parade of the Contradas. The paintings represent the view of the Piazza del Campo at that time, but above all they represent the heart of city at the moment of celebration and traditional events that have lived through the centuries.
He died in Siena in 1632.
Monte dei Paschi di Siena Foundation was established on August 28, 1995 with the conferment of banking activity and it is the oldest bank in the world still operating.
The headquarters is in Palazzo Sansedoni of Piazza del Campo, Siena, and the main mission is to carry out philanthropic activities in cultural, artistic and environmental sectors.
The foundation owns and preserves two collections: the collection of Artworks and Malandrini collection of photographs. Both collections can be found on digital version online.
The artwork collection includes 57 pieces representing prestigious examples of Sienese art, some of which have been lost for centuries. A special committee of scholars and art historians was set up to identify the works of Sienese school between the 13th and 18th century. Among the artworks there are Segna di Bonaventura’s Madonna with Child Enthroned, St. Bartholomew, St. Ansanus and a Donor, Maestro dell’Osservanza’s Santa Lucia, Brescianino’s Madonna with Child and Little St. John, Ventura Salimbeni’s Santa Cecilia, Francesco Vanni’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Rutilio Manetti’s St. Jerome in Penitence and Bernardo Mei’s Holy Family with Magdalene.
The Malandri collection was named after the founder, photographer Ferruccio Malandrini, and it was established in 1975. The collection includes historical photographs from Siena territory, taken between 1853 and 1950. There are 135 units in the collection. The units consist of different themes, origins and technical and historical characteristics and in total they include 11,389 photographs.