(b. ca. 1384, Siena, d. ca. 1455, Siena)

Madonna of the Magnificat

Polychrome wood, height 133 cm
Sant'Agostino, Siena

Known as the Madonna of the Magnificat - because the verses of this song of praise attributed to the Virgin are carved along the hem of the Virgin's mantle - this wooden sculpture is particularly remarkable for its rich and extensive polychromy and gilding. It was probably carved by the sculptor Giovanni di Turino as the centrepiece to a painted altarpiece by Taddeo di Bartolo and Gregorio di Cecco, for an altar in the church of Sant'Agostino; they probably painted it as well as the altarpiece. This is an example of such collaboration between different kinds of artist. Painters gave such sculpted figures an enhanced degree of lifelikeness through the painting of flesh and of details such as the eyes and mouth, and through the use of a sumptuous range of colours and patterns on the surfaces of the carved draperies. This undoubtedly increased the emotional impact of these sacred figures, many of which figured in the staging of religious liturgies and processions.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 13 minutes):
Henri Dumont: Magnificat