Siena Palio Portraits


Modern Italian boys and men wear wigs and historical costumes. They are dressed up for the Historical Procession that precedes the Palio, the famous horse race that since 1287 takes place in Siena/Italy  twice a year. Siena is divided in 17 quarters (‘contrade’) that have odd names like Snale, Giraffe, Dragon, etc. They each have their own colourful flags and costumes made of the most beautiful fabrics. In the 15 years that during short or longer periods I lived and worked near Siena this event has always fascinated me and little by little the intention was formed to paint a series of portraits of these men in their magnificent costumes. Throughout the years I have studied them, made sketches and photos, chatted with them. Sixteen portraits are finished now, for the time being four more are on the easel. It is my tribute to my beloved Siena.

In principle, I do not want to sell these portraits yet because I hope to be able to exhibit them together in the future (the series is not finished yet!). Nevertheless, I sometimes make an exception for someone who really wants to purchase a certain work. I get the promise from those clients that they are willing to lend me the works for an exhibition.

For more information about the Palio of Siena check

"Yvonne Melchers lived and worked near Siena, Italy, on and off, for fifteen years. That important life period inevitably inspired her to paint its people, culture, and landscapes, and also deeply influenced her expression of bright colors and sunny Mediterranean light. Her series, entitled Siena Palio, is a celebration of the Palio di Siena, a horse race that has been held twice yearly since 1287.

A pageant, the Corteo Storico, precedes the race, where modern-day Italian boys and men dress up in wigs and traditional costumes for the historical procession, carrying colorful banners representing a particular district of the city of Siena. Fascinated by this medieval event, Melchers pays tribute to it by superbly capturing the portraits of these smart Italians showing off their beautiful regalia, as well as the alluring sensuality, pride, and passion expressed on their handsome faces. The Siena Palio series is Melchers’ tribute to her beloved Siena, and is marked by the exquisitely detailed depiction of extravagantly patterned or embroidered fabrics in a kaleidoscope of dazzling colors"

Lorena Kloosterboer
From her essay Kloosterboer on Melchers, published at in June 2020. A link to this essay can be found on the links page of this website.

"Top class! You have that remarkable gift of being able to bring out the character of your sitters. Your technique is worthy of those Italian Renaissance painters who you so obviously admire. I am impressed and honoured to have seen your paintings in so much detail."

Bob Murrin

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