The Maestà (1308-11)
by DUCCIO di Buoninsegna

Duccio's famous Maestà was commissioned by the Siena Cathedral in 1308 and it was completed in 1311. Today most of this elaborate double-sided altarpiece is in the cathedral museum but several of the predella panels are scattered outside Italy in various museums. It is probably the most important panel ever painted in Italy; it is certainly among the most beautiful. Compressed within the compass of an altarpiece is the equivalent of an entire programme for the fresco painting of a church.

The whole of the front of the main panel is occupied by a scene of the Virgin and Child in majesty surrounded by angels and saints, and corresponding to this on the back there are twenty-six scenes from Christ's Passion. Originally there were subsidiary scenes from Christ's life on both the front and the back sides above (in the crowning sections) and below (in the predellas). The whole structure reached a height of almost five meters. It is a superb standard of craftsmanship, and the exquisite colouring and supple draughtsmanship create effects of great beauty.

The painting ornamented the high altar of the Cathedral of Siena until 1505. Later the predella pictures were separated and the original frame was lost.

See detailed description of the work in Guided Tour #8.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 6 minutes):
Guillaume Dufay: Ave, maris stella, hymn for the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Conjectural reconstrruction of the Maestà (front)
-
Digitized reconstruction of panels
-

1041*1000
True Color
157 Kb



Conjectural reconstrruction of the Maestà (back)
-
Digitized reconstruction of panels
-

1072*1000
True Color
171 Kb



Reconstruction of the Maestà (front)
-
Digitized reconstruction of panels
-

1114*1200
True Color
206 Kb



Reconstruction of the Maestà (back)
-
Digitized reconstruction of panels
-

1125*1200
True Color
208 Kb