[Berna] (da Siena)
Italian painter. According to I commentari, written by Lorenzo Ghiberti towards the end of his life, a Sienese painter named Barna painted several works in Tuscany, including many stories from the Old Testament in San Gimignano. Giorgio Vasari, in the first edition of his Vite (1550), listed a number of works by the Sienese painter ‘Berna’, including frescoed Old Testament scenes in the ‘Pieve’ of San Gimignano, but in the second edition (1568) he referred only to New Testament scenes in that church, dating them to the very end of Barna’s life, apparently to 1381. On the basis of Vasari’s second text a fresco cycle of the Infancy and Passion of Christ in the Collegiata of San Gimignano has been traditionally attributed to Barna da Siena, and it has been used as a departure point for attributing panel paintings to the artist.
Four major problems attend the ‘Barna question’. The first derives from the combined testimony of Ghiberti and Vasari. The brief account of the artist in the first edition of Vasari’s ...