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

Pilate's First Interrogation of Christ (scene 13)

Tempera on wood, 49 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 row on the right side below the scene of Christ Accused by the Pharisees.

The surroundings for the scenes in which Pilate appears (Christ Accused by the Pharisees and Pilate's First Interrogation of Christ) are new since the events take place in the governor's palace. The slender spiral columns of white marble and the decoration carved along the top of the walls seem to refer to classical architecture. Pilate too, portrayed with the solemnity of a Roman emperor and crowned with a laurel wreath, evokes the world of classical antiquity. It is interesting to note how the latter's face still bears the slashings caused by medievalreligious fervour. The function of the beams placed on the capitals supporting a light and apparently unstable wooden roof is harder to explain.

As in the gospel, the group of Pharisees, animated by lively gestures (again the hand with pointing finger), is depicted outside the building: the Jews avoid going inside in order not to be defiled and to be able to eat the Passover meal.