To the left of the main apse of the Cathedral of Siena is a tiny door where you can find a room full of artistic wonders – the Piccolomini Library.
Built in 1492 by Pope Pius III to house the collection of books and manuscripts of his uncle, Pope Pius II (Enea Silvio Piccolomini), the room was then frescoed between 1503 – 1507 by Pinturicchio.
Pinturicchio signed one of the first artistic contracts with the Piccolomini family, where it was stipulated that the walls had to contain ten frescoes depicting the (incredible) life of Pope Pius II. The contract required that only Pinturicchio was to draw all the cartoons and fresco outlines (not his assistants, one of whom was later Raphael) and that it was also his responsibility to paint all the faces in the cycle of frescoes.
(Below: Pope Pius II (Piccolomini) presents Emperor Frederick III with his bride-to-be Eleanora of Portugal at the Porta Camollia in Siena)
Another first in the library goes to the fresco (see below) titled “Enea Silvio Piccolomini leaves for the Council of Basel”, where one of the very first scenes of a storm was ever painted in Western art.
And if all the stunning frescoes weren’t enough, underneath them in wooden and glass cases are Piccolomini’s collection of illuminated choir books. Definitely an art-filled room.
(Below: Piccolomini crowned court poet by emperor Frederick III)
(Below: Pius II convokes a Diet of Princes at Mantua to proclaim a new crusade in 1459)