DUCCIO di Buoninsegna
(b. ca. 1255, Siena, d. 1319, Siena)
Tempera on wood, 31,5 x 22,5 cm
A feeling of tenderness permeates the radiant Madonna of Bern, where the Virgin and Child are portrayed in a loving embrace. The gesture of intimate affection is taken from Byzantine iconography, from the motif of the Glykophilousa, in which Mary, with a presentiment of the sad future, clasps the Infant Jesus urgently to her breast. A closer reference can be seen in the Madonna in Bologna on which Duccio worked as an assistant of Cimabue, but its size and the barely indicated gesture greatly reduce the sense of intimate tenderness. The typology of the throne, decorated with Cosmati-like inlays and already experimented in several variations in the window of the apse, follows the lines of Gothic architecture, while the characteristic curling edge of Mary's dress evens out into a smooth gilt border.