(active 1480s, Siena)

Offering of the Keys

Tempera on wood, 59 x 40 cm
Archivio di Stato, Siena

Small panels served as book covers for the semiannual ledgers of the Biccherna and Gabella, the financial and fiscal offices of the commune of Siena. The tradition of binding the ledger volumes with painted wood panels was instituted in 1257 and the oldest preserved panel covers the accounts of the second semester of 1258. The Archivio di Stato in Siena has a collection of over a hundred of these panels.

The present picture shows the upper part of a panel originating from the Biccherna (revenue office). It depicts the offering of the city keys of Siena to the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral. It shows the Cathedral interior where part of Duccio's Maestà is visible, painted as described in the inventory; above, on the left, the round window designed by Duccio can also be seen.