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Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319) The Maestà

Duccio The Maestà (detail)Duccio The Maestà (detail)

Duccio The Maestà (detail)Duccio The Maestà (detail)

The Flagellation by Duccio The MaestàThe Flagellation by Duccio The Maestà

Duccio was the first great master of the Sienese school. His art represented the culmination of the Italo-Byzantine style in Siena and created the foundation for Sienese Gothic art.
Little is known about the life of Duccio. It is thought that he was born in the 1250s, probably toward the end of the decade. The first documentary reference which has come down to us is dated 1278. Thereafter several documents give us some hints about the artist's personality. He was, for instance, frequently in debt, as receipts of payment indicate. He was fined several times for petty offenses such as blocking the street and once for refusing to join the militia fighting in Maremma in 1289, and again in 1302, when he declined to take part in the wars against the neighbouring city state of Florence.
Perhaps the most intriguing reference to Duccio in the Sienese archives records that on 22 December 1302 he was accused of sorcery and “taken before the magistrate for witchcraft in the district of Chamomilla”. The accusation cannot have been taken very seriously. He was fined the risible amount of five soldi and allowed to go on his way. But maybe there was something in it. The Maesta proves that Duccio was a magician, of a kind. andrewgrahamdixon.com

From these fragmentary references we might conclude that Duccio was one of the first bohemian artists. A document of 1319 indicates that he was dead.

Duccio The MaestàDuccio, The Maestà


At the beginning of the 15th century a chronicler praised the Maesta and related that Duccio's many students had become famous (Simone Martini, Ugolino di Nerio, Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti).

The Virgin Enthroned in Majesty by Duccio (The Maestà)The Virgin Enthroned in Majesty by Duccio (The Maestà)
There was in Duccio's style an anticipation of the linear rhythmic movements and patterns that later evolved into the 14th-century Gothic style that equates him with Giotto.
After Duccio, Sienese painting became wholeheartedly Gothic in the work of Simone Martini and the Lorenzetti brothers.


Duccio The Maestàfrom the back

Duccio The Maestà (detail)Duccio The Maestà (detail)

The Maestà, Duccio's masterpiece, is fully documented. It was commissioned on Oct. 9, 1308, for the main altar of the Cathedral in Siena and was carried in triumph from Duccio's studio to the Cathedral on June 9, 1311. Between these dates there are several documents of payment and admonitions to the artist to work faster. The Maestà is painted on both sides. The front depicts the Madonna enthroned in majesty with saints and angels. In the predella, spandrels, and pinnacles are scenes from the life of the Virgin and portraits of the Prophets. The back is decorated with small panels depicting the life and Passion of Christ.

Washing the Feet by DuccioWashing the Feet

The Maestà is splendid with gold leaf and rich colors. The design of the front is conventional, with the Madonna enthroned, flanked by regular ranks of saints and angels. Duccio did, however, substitute a solid blue mantle for the gold-feathered mantle of the typical Byzantine Madonna and painted a marble Cosmatesque throne in place of the Byzantine wooden throne. As in the Rucellai Madonna, the hem and opening of the Virgin's mantle are traced with a sinuously moving gold line. In the narrative scenes on both front and back, Duccio evolved a remarkably accurate figure-setting relationship which created convincing environments for the figures to move through.

Duccio The Maestà (detail)Duccio The Maestà (detail)

The city greeted its completion with a kind of spontaneous street festival. According to a contemporary witness, “The Bishop ordered a great and devout company of priests and brothers with a solemn procession, accompanied by the Signori of the Nine and all the officials of the Commune, and all the populace and the most worthy were in order next to the said panel with lights lit in their hands, and then behind were women and children with much devotion; and they accompanied it right to the Duomo making procession around the Campo, as was the custom, sounding out all the bells in glory out of devotion for such a noble panel as this.”
Source: Encyclopedia of World Biography.

The Massacre of the Innocents by DuccioThe Massacre of the Innocents

Duccio The Maestà (detail)Duccio The Maestà (detail)

Crown of Thorns by DuccioCrown of Thorns

Last Supper by DuccioLast Supper

Jesus Accused by the Pharisees by DuccioJesus Accused by the Pharisees

Healing of the Blind Man by DuccioHealing of the Blind Man

Duccio The Maestà (detail)

Marriage Feast in Cana by Duccio The MaestàMarriage Feast in Cana

Duccio The Maestà (detail)Duccio The Maestà (detail)

Duccio The Maestà (detail)

Christ and the Samaritan Woman by DuccioChrist and the Samaritan Woman

Deposition. Duccio The MaestaDeposition

Duccio The Maestà (detail)Duccio The Maestà (detail)

Duccio The Maestà (detail)

The Carrying of the Cross by Duccio The MaestàThe Carrying of the Cross

Entry into Jerusalem by Duccio The MaestàEntry into Jerusalem

The Betrayal by Judas by DuccioThe Betrayal by Judas

Noli Me Tangere, Christ Resurrected Appears Before Mary Magdalene by DuccioDuccio The Maestà, Noli Me Tangere (Christ Resurrected Appears Before Mary Magdalene)

The Holy Women at the Sepulchre by DuccioThe Holy Women at the Sepulchre

The Raising of Lazarus by DuccioThe Raising of Lazarus

The Temptation of Christ by DuccioThe Temptation of Christ


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