The Italian painter Francesco Traini came from Pisa. He is known both from documents and from a signed panel painting of St Dominic of 1345 (Museo Nazionale di S. Matteo, Pisa). This came from the same church as a panel painting of the Dominican St Thomas Aquinas in Glory (S. Caterina, Pisa) that can be attributed to him. It is clear from these two panels that Traini was strongly influenced by the Sienese painter Simone Martini (1280/5 - 1344), who painted an altarpiece in Pisa in 1320, and by the Lorenzetti. In 1321 we first hear of Traini in connection with the frescoes of the Composanto, Pisa. Although it is still a matter of controversy, it seems likely that Traini painted the frescoes there of The Triumph of Death, Last Judgment, Hell, and Legends of Hermits. These were formerly dated to about the 1350s, but it is now believed that they were painted earlier.
The frescoes reflect the fear of God's judgment, which was so prevalent in the middle of the 14th century. The Last Judgment is accompanied by a vision of Hell far more dominant than any glimpse we are given of Paradise. In The Triumph of Death, Traini uses the emotional, Gothic elements of Sienese art to emphasize the cruel indifference of Death. The crippled and blind call out for deliverance from life, but Death instead strikes out at a group of young men and ladies enjoying a life of courtly pleasure.
The Camposanto frescoes have been damaged by war and the passage of time, but underneath them have been revealed sinopie of great beauty; these give a rare opportunity to study this usually hidden aspect of the art of the 14th-century painter.