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

Announcement of Death to the Virgin (panel 1)

Tempera on wood, 42 x 54 cm
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena

This scene is on one of the front crowning panels of the Maestà.

In the simple architectural frame enclosing the scene space is articulated with effortless accuracy. The beamed ceiling, the linearity of the horizontal pattern on the back wall, the slender arches opening onto the room where Mary is sitting, lend calm elegance to the surroundings. In the Announcement of Death the angel, his robe light and fluttering, offers the palm branch to the Virgin - the palma mortis is present in all the episodes as an emblem of death and a symbol of paradise to come.

In structure, this scene resembles the Annunciation panel. The archangel comes in through an arch on the left, and Mary receives the news while sitting at a reading-desk. he holds out a palm branch, spangled with stars, towards her. This is not merely a sign of her approaching death, but also of her immaculate conception.