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

Crucifixion (scene 20)

Tempera on wood, 100 x 76 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 centre of the upper row.

The emotional intensity of the Stories of the Passion, from Christ Taken Prisoner to the Way to Calvary, reaches its most dramatic moment in the Crucifixion which, placed in the middle of the upper row, dominates the whole of the back section. The slender cross stands out against the gold ground, dividing the crowd into two separate groups. On the left are Christ's followers, subdued and orderly, their faces drawn with grief, amongst whom are Mary of Clopas, Mary Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene (dressed in red with her long hair unbound) and John the Evangelist. On the right, the priests and soldiers are shown mocking and insulting, with rough movements. The fine modelling of the figure of Christ is reminiscent of the plasticism of Gothic ivories, while the strong contrast of movement which opposes the characters has evident connections with the Crucifixion on the Cathedral pulpit, carved by Nicola Pisano from 1266-68. The surroundings are bare and scanty, the jagged rocks clearly alluding to Golgotha.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 2 minutes):
Gregorian sequence