DUCCIO di Buoninsegna
(b. ca. 1255, Siena, d. 1319, Siena)
Entry into Jerusalem (scene 1)1308-11
Tempera on wood, 100 x 57 cm
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena
The picture shows one of the 26 narrative scenes from the Stories of the Passion on the reverse side of the Maestà. It is situated in the bottom left corner of the main section.
The scene depicts Christ riding on a donkey up to the city-gate of Jerusalem. Crowds of enthusiastic people are preparing a fitting welcome for him, as they lay down branches and clothes in his path.
The scene is unusual because of the attention given to the landscape, which is rich in detail. The paved road, the city gate with battlements, the wall embrasures, the slender towers rising up above and the polygonal building of white marble reproduce a remarkably realistic layout, both urbanistically and architecturally. The small tree, withered and leafless, that shows behind Christ's halo, is the fig-tree that Christ found without fruit. Florens Deuchler has suggested that the literary source is a historical work of the first century A.D., the De Bello Judaico by Flavius Josephus which was well-known in the Middle Ages. The panel by Duccio is a faithful reproduction of the description of Jerusalem in Book V. Infrared photography during restoration has revealed several changes of mind regarding the area around the tree in the centre and the road.