(b. 1280/85, Siena, d. 1344, Avignon)

Orvieto Polyptych

c. 1321
Tempera on wood, 113 x 257
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Orvieto

In the case of the Orvieto Polyptych the presence of collaborators is unmistakable. Even though we cannot be entirely certain of the year in which it was painted (despite the suggestion that there is a missing letter in the inscription "MCCCXX"), the style of the work is very much under the influence of the art of Giotto and the overall mood is one of great solemnity. The frontal composition and the use of certain stylistic elements (such as a fairly rigid volumetric construction) that the Pisa Polyptych appeared to have surpassed, suggest that only the figure of the Madonna is actually by Simone.

Originally consisting of seven elements (and while St Peter, Mary Magdalene and St Dominic are all shown in exactly the same pose, St Paul is facing towards the right), this polyptych is now in the Cathedral Museum, although it was painted originally for the church of San Domenico. The painting was commissioned by the Bishop of Sovana, Trasmundo Monaldeschi, the former prior of the Dominican monastery, who paid a hundred gold florins for this altarpiece; he is portrayed in the panel together with Mary Magdalene.