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

Boston Polyptych

Tempera on wood, 235 x 405 cm
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Although recently some scholars have expressed their disagreement, in the past the Polyptych in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, was always considered contemporary to the Orvieto Polyptych, or at the most dating from just a short while later. Originally in the church of Santa Maria dei Servi in Orvieto, the altarpiece consists of five panels: in the middle, the Madonna and Child; on either side, from left to right, Saints Paul, Lucy, Catherine of Alexandria and John the Baptist, all within a trefoiled ogival frame. In the cusps, the musician angels and the symbols of the Passion (the column and the whip of the Flagellation, the cross, the crown of thorns, the spear and the sponge) as well as the figure of Christ showing his wounds, suggest the iconography of the Last Judgment.

Stylistically this polyptych is closer to the Pisa Polyptych than it is to the one painted for the Dominicans in Orvieto, especially in details such as the slender figures, the long and graceful hands, more fluent and lighter volumes. In recent years it has become almost unanimously recognized as being by Simone, except for the St Paul, about whom there is still a fair amount of doubt.