DUCCIO di Buoninsegna
(b. ca. 1255, Siena, d. 1319, Siena)
Madonna and Child with Six Angels1304-08
Tempera on wood, 97 x 63 cm
Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, Perugia
The Perugia Madonna, now in the local National Gallery, was kept perhaps ab antiquo up until 1863 in the monastery of San Domenico in Perugia, hung above the sacristy door or in the "Winter Choir". It was ascribed to Duccio in 1911 and subsequent restoration revealed it to be the central panel of a dismantled polyptych.
The formal stylistic elements of the traditional half-length portrait of the Madonna and Child develop into the portrayal of a solid mother and son relationship, showing a greater naturalness of gesture. Remarkable spontaneity is shown in the movement of the Child who is sitting on his mother's curved arm, clutching the soft folds of her veil. This detail in dress is of importance since it takes the place of the red Byzantine maphórion, evidently considered old-fashioned by the painter. The Virgin's gesture, showing the Child's hand and pointing to his feet, is also significant: it seems to allude to the future Passion of Christ.
The original splendour of the painting is marred by its poor state of preservation, but although of high pictorial value it had no influence on local artistic production.