DUCCIO di Buoninsegna
(b. ca. 1255, Siena, d. 1319, Siena)

Maestà (detail)

1308-11
Tempera on wood
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena

This detail shows St Catherine of Alexandria at the left side of the Maestà. As a princess, the saint wears a golden crown. The martyr's palm branch is a symbol of the martyrdom she suffered under the Roman Emperor, Maxentius, in the 4th century AD.

The circular halo was incised with a pair of compasses. Embossing tools were used to etch the pattern into the gilded surface. These tools were rested vertically on the pictorial surface, then lightly tapped with a hammer. Since the plaster ground is flexible, the gold leaf did not tear.