Member of a family of artists, Ugolino di Nerio’s father and his brothers, Guido and Muccio, were also painters. Ugolino probably trained with Duccio and subsequently ran an important workshop. He is documented in Siena between 1317 and 1327 and according to Vasari died between 1339 and 1349. His only signed work is the polyptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints painted for the church of Santa Croce in Florence but dismantled in the 16th century to make room for a dome base designed by Vasari. Panels from this work are now divided between various museums and collections: Saint Simon and Saint Thaddeus are in the National Gallery, London; Saint Matthew and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary are in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin; and The Last Supper is in The Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Ugolino’s approach to design and composition clearly reveals the influence of Duccio but he deployed a markedly different technique, using azurite for the blues rather than ultramarine, a rich and complex palette and little use of preliminary underdrawing.
Among the paintings that have been attributed to the artist is the altarpiece for the high altar of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, two polyptychs of The Virgin and Child with Saints (Clark Institute, Willamstown, Mass., and Cleveland Museum of Art), and Saint Anne and The Virgin (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). The latter is an example of his mature style and includes iconographic elements that indicate an evolution in his work, particularly with regard to the expression of sentiment.