Today we are going to speak about wonderful Majesty painted by Duccio Buoninsegna. This great artist was able to melt the precious Byzantine style with the French Gothic.
The Majesty of Duccio was commissioned in 1308 to be placed above the High Altar of the Cathedral of Siena. On June 9th 1311, all the enthusiastic citizens carried the Majesty in procession from Duccio’s laboratory to the Cathedral.
The first thing that draw the attention is its complexity.
The great altarpiece was painted on both sides. On the front, which faced the nave, there was the representation of Our Lady seated on the Throne with Child, surrounded by angels and saints. The first four kneeling saints are the patrons of Siena: Ansano, Savino, Crescenzio and Vittore. On the other side, on the back, Duccio painted 26 panels which represented the Passion and Resurrection of Christ (among these the biggest panel is dedicated to the Crucifixion).
The altar piece was originally decorated with a wooden strip (with stories of Jesus’ childhood and life) and a gothic crowning (gable) describing life scenes of Virgin Mary and Christ. In 1505, the Majesty was moved to the altar of S. Sebastian and in 1771 the masterpiece was cut to separate the front side from the back and remove other panels. During this operation the Gothic frame was destroyed. In 1878 the Majesty, so sectioned, left the Cathedral and was definitively transferred to the Opera del Duomo Museum in Siena, where it still lies today. Unfortunately, during this transfer, some panels were lost and others “traveled” towards foreign museums and collections.
With the Majesty Duccio completed his painting experience on the thirteen century and he became a source of inspiration and a teacher for the following century.
Source:” Tutta Siena Contrada per Contrada” by Pietro Torriti
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