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

Pilate Washing his Hands (scene 18)

1308-11
Tempera on wood, 51 x 54 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 upper row on the left side below the scene of the Way to Calvary.

An entire compartment is devoted to Pilate's action, although the story is told briefly and only by Matthew. A servant is pouring water from a jug over the hands of Pontius Pilate, who uses his gesture of washing to make it clear to the soldiers and Pharisees that he is innocent of Christ's condemnation. As in the Flagellation, consistency in depicting perspective takes second place to clarity in depicting action.

Again, to lend vitality to each single movement, different planes of perspective are superimposed in the scene, both in the figure of Pilate, and in the large group crowding in front of the left pillar. The base of this should be parallel to that of the column next to it, but it is much further back.