Medium Tempera on panel
Housed at Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena
This work was commissioned to grace the high altar of the Sienna cathedral and was installed during a great celebration held for the very occasion. Duccio was particularly proud of this work—the base of Mary’s throne reads “Holy Mother of God, be the cause of peace to Siena, and of life to Duccio because he has painted you thus”.
As with other contemporaneous Madonnas, Duccio paints her garments in rich blue; however, unlike Cimabue’s, the lines are less angular and fall more naturally, possibly a testament to Gothic influence. She is flanked on either side by saints and angels, each carefully placed and expressing three-dimensional life.
Annunciation of the Death of the Virgin
One of the numerous, smaller scenes on the front of Duccio’s Maestà. Draws a stark parallel to the Annunciation to the Virgin created in the Byzantine movement; here, however, Gabriel warns Mary of her impending death. Duccio utilizes foreshortened architectural devices to both feature the figures under the same roof and separate them at the same time. This work served as an inspiration for Jean Pucelle’s Annunciation in the Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux.
Christ Entering Jerusalem (back of Altar)
In Giotto’s depiction of the same scene, the architectural device is left to the side, a mere symbol of the city; here, however, the detailed architecture is a part of the scene in its own right—the walls foreshorten and guide the scene forward—we can even see through the city gates and beyond. Note the strict adherence to the composition in the curving procession, starting with the apostles and Jesus, then linked by Christ’s mule and the robes placed at his feet before continuing upward and through the gates; this makes the perception of movement considerably easier on the eye.