(b. 1280/85, Siena, d. 1344, Avignon)

Madonna of Mercy

Tempera on wood, 154 x 84 cm
Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena

The Madonna of Mercy from Vertine is a splendid tempera painting only recently attributed (and not unanimously) to Simone. Here, we can still clearly see the influence of Duccio, especially in the positioning and typology of the characters sheltered under Mary's cloak. But a new spirit prevails: a sense of real space between the heads and a feeling of life and movement in the imposing figure of the Virgin (the drapery folds do not conceal the position of her legs and she is quite noticeably turning in order to embrace all her protégés) are evidence of the evolution of the artist's more archaic ideas towards new forms of expression.

The effect of rich and precious ornamentation (a striking feature of the Maestà) is reproduced in the use of gold and silver, colourful gems set in the surface, and transparent varnishes. Although we cannot be sure that this Madonna was actually painted by Simone, no one can deny the analogies, both in technique and style, with Madonna no. 583.