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Miklós Boskovits (1935–2011), “Duccio di Buoninsegna/The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew/1308-1311,” Italian Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century Paintings, NGA Online Editions, http://purl.org/nga/collection/artobject/282 (accessed May 30, 2016).

 

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Overview

Like Duccio’s The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, this small panel was part of the Maestà, one of the most important masterpieces in the history of Western painting. The monumental Maestà was a two-sided altarpiece that dominated the main altar in Siena’s cathedral for nearly two centuries. Within the vast black-and-white striped interior of the church, it would have glittered in the colored light that washed down through stained glass. Completed in less than three years, the Maestà was a huge undertaking, for which Duccio received 3,000 gold florins—more than any artist had ever commanded. Although he must have had substantial help from his pupils and workshop assistants, the design and execution indicates that Duccio exercised control over the whole project. Moved to a side altar in 1506, the altarpiece was sawn apart in the 1770s and individual panels subsequently dispersed. This makes it impossible to determine its dimensions with certainty, but it must have been about 15 feet wide, with the gables rising to as much as 17 feet high. In all, there were probably more than 70 individual scenes (see Reconstructions).

This panel was located on the back of the altarpiece, where the imagery was devoted to Christ’s Passion and his mission as teacher—apt subjects for the rear panels, which would have been seen only by clergy standing behind the altar. Here we find Jesus calling his first disciples. He approaches two fishermen at work on the Sea of Galilee: Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew. Their net is full when Jesus says to them: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18).

This panel is one of the highlights of Duccio’s accomplishments and likely one of the last created, displaying all the lessons learned over the years of painting the Maestà. The figures are sensitively human, their gestures expressive, their draperies lyrical yet describing the bodies beneath. Duccio’s setting is evocative of nature, yet reminds us, with the gilded sky, that capturing the physical world is not this painter’s top priority.

Entry

The episode illustrated in the panel is that recounted in the synoptic Gospels of the calling of the first two apostles: Jesus [fig. 1], walking by the Sea of Galilee, accosts Simon, called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, as they are casting a net into the sea, and invites them: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”[1] The composition conforms to the iconographic scheme already familiar in Sienese art in the thirteenth century,[2] though enriched by such details as the motif of the net full of fishes and Peter’s timid gesture of remonstrance, reported only by Luke (“Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”). The painting was the fourth of the nine scenes ([fig. 2] [fig. 3] [fig. 4]  [fig. 5] [fig. 6] [fig. 7] [fig. 8] [fig. 9]) representing episodes of the public ministry of Jesus, arranged in the predella on the rear side of the altarpiece, the side turned towards the apse [fig. 10] (see also Reconstruction). It was a kind of introduction to the narrative of the Passion, recounted in the twenty-six scenes of the main register of the back of the Maestà and the seven postmortem scenes placed in the gables [fig. 11] (see also Reconstruction). The front side [fig. 12] (see also Reconstruction), facing the nave, was dedicated to the glorification of the Virgin Mary, to whom the cathedral was consecrated. In the main register she appears enthroned, surrounded by twenty angels and ten saints. In the upper register was a gallery of ten busts of apostles, while the predella illustrated seven stories of the childhood of Christ interspersed with six figures of prophets (see entry for The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel). The stories of the death and glorification of the Virgin appeared in the seven panels of the gable. Above these latter, at the very top of the altarpiece, on both sides of the work, small panels with busts of angels flanked further lost images.

The altarpiece of monumental dimensions and complex structure, of which The Nativity and The Calling of the Apostles formed part, is unusually well documented.[3] The procedures regulating the execution of the work and the payments to be made to the artist were meticulously described in a document dated October 9, 1308. It obliged Duccio to conduct the enterprise continuously, without any interruption, and without taking on any other work. It also stipulated that the hours of any absences from his workshop should be deducted from his daily remuneration. The wording of the document, and the fact that it fails to specify the subject or structure of the altarpiece, suggests that it was not in fact the original contract but a supplement to it, presumably prompted by the excessive slowness in the progress of the execution. By October 1308, therefore, Duccio probably had been at work on the Maestà for some time. On the other hand, we do have a secure terminus ante quem for the completion of the altarpiece: on June 9, 1311, some musicians were paid for having accompanied it as it was being transported, in triumphal procession, from the artist’s workshop to the cathedral.[4] Subsequent events in the history of the work also can be followed almost step by step, thanks to the rich surviving documentation.

Art historical discussion of the Maestà has concentrated mainly on the problem of reconstructing the original appearance of the dismantled and in part dispersed ensemble. An exception is James Stubblebine’s attempts to distinguish the parts attributable to various assistants who hypothetically participated in its execution.[5] The only fully autograph parts, in his view, were the large image of the Maestà itself on the front side and the predella below, while the rest of the altarpiece was attributable to various of the main Sienese painters of the early Trecento. In particular, the rear predella, of which this panel formed part, was, according to Stubblebine, painted by Pietro Lorenzetti (Sienese, active 1306 - 1345). More recent studies have not accepted this attribution, at variance with the stylistic data, and the wording of the contract of 1308 also apparently contradicts it: a daily remuneration for Duccio was stipulated as “sixteen soldi of Sienese money for each day that the said Duccio shall work with his own hands on the said panel.”[6] In any case, the extraordinary stylistic coherence of the altarpiece seems to exclude the participation of artists who had already completed their apprenticeship and were able to express themselves with a style of their own —  in other words, artists other than those of Duccio’s shop. Duccio, of course, would not have tackled single-handedly the daunting task of painting the eighty or so images of various size that make up the Maestà: he would have undoubtedly entrusted to others the largely mechanical realization of the more decorative parts. His assistants, following the outlines of his drawing, would have intervened in the painting of the less demanding areas of the settings, architectural backdrops, and draperies. But it is equally certain that the master rigorously controlled the work of his assistants, reserving for himself the task not only of painting the faces, or the bodies in movement, but also of revising and finishing the passages he had not personally painted himself.[7]

Discussion has also focused on how best to interpret the iconography of the scenes on the back of the Maestà,[8] which remains in some respects problematic. But art historical analysis has been especially prolific, as noted above, in trying to reconstruct its original appearance. This task, made difficult by the dismemberment of the altarpiece at an early date and the loss of some of its components, was systematically tackled for the first time by Eduard Dobbert (1885), a scholar whose knowledge of the front predella was limited to six scenes and six figures of prophets.[9] He rightly intuited that the sequence of the stories of the childhood of Christ must have begun with The Annunciation [fig. 2], that the scenes must have been interspersed with figures of prophets, and that the predella as a whole must have been as broad as the main panel of the Maestà above. Of the back predella, Dobbert seemed familiar only with The Wedding at Cana [fig. 5], which had remained in the Opera del Duomo in Siena, but he succeeded in correctly guessing the subjects of five other scenes.[10] Dobbert assumed that the number of episodes in the predella must have been identical on both sides of the altarpiece; so it followed that the scenes relating to the public life of Jesus, the first of which must have been a lost Baptism of Christ, would have been similarly interspersed with figures of prophets. Curt Weigelt (1909) accepted Dobbert’s reconstruction of the front predella but proposed the presence of ten stories in the rear predella (adding to the subjects already taken into consideration the Temptation in the Wilderness, Temptation on the Mount [fig. 4], and the Temptation on the Temple [fig. 3], the latter a panel he himself had rediscovered).[11] Weigelt was in error in assuming that the gable zones were filled by eight panels of identical size on both sides.[12] This error was corrected in the reconstruction proposed by Vittorio Lusini (1912), who intuited the presence of a panel of larger size at the center of the upper tier: an image of identical width to that of the Crucifixion below. The two central panels, he conjectured, would have been composed of the now lost scenes of the Coronation of the Virgin (on the front side) and the Ascension (on the back), each of which would have been flanked by three gable panels on either side: the last episodes of the life of Mary above the Maestà and the postmortem stories of Christ on the back. This suggestion has in general been endorsed by more recent studies, whereas the reconstruction proposed by Lusini of a predella with as many as fifteen compartments (nine stories and six prophets) below the Maestà and eleven in the predella on the opposite side has not been accepted.[13]

In more recent decades, general consensus has been reached regarding the nine episodes of the rear predella. Weigelt’s reconstruction of the front predella has also been accepted. It is also generally conceded that one of the stories of the public life of Jesus and the two scenes filling the front and rear of the central gable have been lost.[14] A second order of gable panels with busts of angels, some of them still extant, is also a generally accepted hypothesis.[15] The important research by John White (1973, 1979) has permitted the original dimensions of the Maestà to be established in a plausible way. It measured, according to White, 439 cm in width, while the predella would have been about 450 cm long. The altarpiece would have been supported by two robust lateral pillars or buttresses, with a width of some 30 cm.[16] The overall height of the Maestà remains difficult to calculate, since the gabled elements at the center of the altarpiece are now missing. Sporadic attempts to identify the lost panels with surviving paintings have not met with acceptance in the literature. Alessandro Conti thought that Coronation of the Virgin in Budapest (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, no. 16) was a surviving fragment of the central panel of the upper tier on the front side.[17] The proposal is interesting, since the painting in question undoubtedly has Duccesque characteristics and its proportions (contrary to what has been claimed) do not seem at variance with those of the Maestà. Moreover, a witness as trustworthy as Lorenzo Ghiberti maintained that the Coronation did appear on the front side of the altarpiece. So, while we may admit that the pictorial treatment of the panel in Budapest reveals a hand inferior to that of Duccio himself, we ought not to dismiss too hastily the hypothesis that it originally formed part of the Maestà.[18]

Another hypothesis, formulated more recently by the present writer (1982, 1990), concerns the missing first scene of the back of the predella.[19] It seems to me that it can be identified with the little painting also in the museum in Budapest, Saint John the Baptist Bearing Witness [fig. 2]. In general, previous proposals for the reconstruction of the Maestà assumed for this part of the predella an image (perhaps the one that was still visible in the sacristy of the cathedral in 1798 and then disappeared) representing the Baptism of Christ or the Temptation in the Wilderness, though the theme of the Baptist Bearing Witness was also considered a possible subject.[20] The Budapest panel, which is in poor condition and perhaps for this very reason sold by the Opera del Duomo, represents a rare subject; very likely it formed part of a larger complex of which, however, no other component has yet been identified. Usually it has been connected with the activity of Ugolino da Siena. Might it instead have formed part of the altarpiece over the high altar in the cathedral? In its present condition it is very difficult to judge, but both the circumstance that Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle (who had perhaps been able to see it, in the mid-nineteenth century, in better condition than it is now) did not hesitate to attribute it to Duccio [21] and the slenderness of the arguments with which art historians have tried to deny that it formed part of the predella of the Maestà concur to make its belonging to this work an option that still, in my view, remains valid.[22]

The original appearance of the Maestà, and in particular of the back predella, thus still remains a discussed problem. What remains unchallenged, on the other hand, is the artistic quality of the two panels now in the National Gallery of Art, and on this point a further brief comment should be made. The particular accomplishment of execution of the paintings in the lower zones of the Maestà has long been recognized. Some have tried to explain this phenomenon by assuming that the painter left less room there for the intervention of studio assistants than in the less visible parts, in the upper tiers of the altarpiece.[23] Others emphasize, more plausibly, the more retardataire style detectable in the panels that would have adorned the gables of the work. They point out that the work would have proceeded from top to bottom, and suggest that during the long gestation of the enterprise Duccio was able to experiment with new solutions and to modify his initial project.[24] The painstaking execution, accomplished technique, concise narrative, and expressive emotion in the figures that populate the stories of the predella, where the perspective incongruities present in the gable panels and in the stories of the Passion no longer appear, would therefore depend on their later dating, though this cannot be any later than June 30, 1311.[25] If we compare a passage such as the Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew with the similar scene of the Apparition of Jesus on the Sea of Tiberius (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena), we will immediately feel the greater spaciousness of the composition of the painting now in the Gallery. The figures are smaller and fewer but characterized by particular fluency and eloquence in gesture [fig. 13]. Similar aspects can also be detected in the predella panel of the Nativity [fig. 14], especially if the painting is compared, for example, with one of the last episodes of the life of Mary, recounted in the gable panels. In the Nativity, by contrast, a large number of figures are included, and yet the scene does not seem unduly crowded. In spite of some archaic features, such as the adoption of a larger scale for the figure of Mary than for the other figures, or the incongruity of the roof of the stable, seen from below on the right side and from above on the left, Duccio’s “digressive approach to narration” [26] succeeds in both creating convincing spatial effects and combining the various episodes into a coherent composition. This is also thanks to the master’s subtle analysis of the conduct of the protagonists, who, with their intense emotional participation, render the narrative vivid, complex, and humanly credible.

Miklós Boskovits (1935–2011)

March 21, 2016

Inscription

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

NGA 1939.1.141 formed part of the rear predella of Duccio's double-sided altarpiece the Maestà, which was in the course of execution by October 1308 and was placed on the high altar of the Cathedral of Siena on 30 June 1311;[1] the altarpiece was removed from the cathedral in 1506, first stored by the Cathedral authorities, and then later displayed on the wall of the left transept, close to the altar of Saint Sebastian, but probably by this time the predella and gable panels had already been separated from it;[2] the altarpiece was moved to the church of Sant'Ansano in 1777, where its two sides were separated and returned to the cathedral;[3] in 1798 the gables and eight panels of the predella were reported as being housed in the sacristy of the cathedral, whereas the rest, including NGA 1939.1.141, must already have been in private hands;[4] Giuseppe and Marziale Dini, Colle Val d'Elsa (Siena), by 1879;[5] purchased 1886 by (Charles Fairfax Murray [1849-1919], London and Florence) for Robert Henry [1850-1929] and Evelyn Holford [1856-1943] Benson, London and Buckhurst Park, Sussex;[6] sold 1927 with the entire Benson collection to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris);[7] sold 1 October 1928 to Clarence H. Mackay [1874-1938], Roslyn, New York;[8] sold 1934 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[9] gift 1939 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1904
Exhibition of Pictures of the School of Siena, Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1904, nos. 1 and 7.
1927
Loan Exhibition of the Benson Collection of Old Italian Masters, City of Manchester Art Gallery, 1927, no. 108.
1935
Exposition de L'Art Italien de Cimabue à Tiepolo, Petit Palais, Paris, 1935, no. 150.
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Berenson, Bernard. The Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance. New York, 1897: 140.
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Douglas, Robert Langton. A History of Siena. London, 1902: 345, 349.
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1951
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1951
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1951
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1952
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1952
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1953
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1953
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1955
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1955
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1956
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1956
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1959
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1959
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1960
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1961
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1963
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1965
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1965
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1966
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1966
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1966
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1968
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1968
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1968
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1968
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1968
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1969
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1971
Carli, Enzo. I pittori senesi. Siena, 1971: 56.
1972
Cattaneo, Giulio and Edi Baccheschi. L’opera completa di Duccio. 1st ed. Milan, 1972: 7, 92, 93, pls. 22, 27, 61, figs. 68-70, 82.
1972
Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972: 68, 268, 277, 645, 660.
1973
Preiser, Arno. Das Entstehen und die Entwicklung der Predella in der italienischen Malerei. Hildesheim and New York, 1973: 78.
1973
Stubblebine, James H. "Duccio and His Collaborators on the Cathedral Maestà." The Art Bulletin 55 (1973): 185, 190, 203, fig. 1.
1973
White, John. "Measurement, Design and Carpentry in Duccio’s Maestà, 1." The Art Bulletin 55 (1973): 335, 336, 343, 346, 348, 349, fig. 4.
1973
White, John. "Measurement, Design and Carpentry in Duccio’s Maestà, 2." The Art Bulletin 55 (1973): 562, 566, fig. 78.
1974
Pesenti, Franco Renzo. "Dismembered works of art - Italian painting." In An Illustrated Inventory of Famous Dismembered Works of Art: European Painting. Paris, 1974: 20, 26-27, repro.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 112, repro.
1976
Fowles, Edward. Memories of Duveen Brothers. London, 1976: 183.
1976
Stoichita, Victor Ieronim. Ucenicia lui Duccio di Buoninsegna. Bucharest, 1976: 39, 40, figs. 55, 59.
1977
Stubblebine, James H. "The Back Predella of Duccio’s Maestà." In Studies in Late Medieval and Renaissance Painting in Honor of Millard Meiss. Edited by Irving Lavin and John Plummer. 2 vols. New York, 1977: 1:430, 435, 436 n. 26.
1979
Amico, Leonard N. "Reconstructing an Early Fourteenth Century Pentaptych by Ugolino di Nerio: St. Catherine Finds Her Niche." Bulletin Krannert Art Museum 5, no. 1 (1979): 13.
1979
Carli, Enzo. Il Duomo di Siena. Genoa, 1979: 67-69.
1979
Gardner von Teuffel, Christa. "The Buttressed Altarpiece: A Forgotten Aspect of Tuscan Fourteenth-Century Altarpiece Design." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 21 (1979): 36-41.
1979
Hartt, Frederick. History of Italian Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. 2nd ed. New York, 1979: 104-105, fig. 99.
1979
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. Washington, 1979: 1:172; 2:pl. 120.
1979
Stubblebine, James H. Duccio di Buoninsegna and His School. 2 vols. Princeton, 1979: 1:10, 31, 32, 36, 37, 55, 56, 62, 100, 107, pls. 581, 582, figs. 74, 93.
1979
Sutton, Denys. "Robert Langton Douglas. Part I." Apollo 109 (April 1979): 295 [49], 296 [50] fig. 3.
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 17, pl. 1.
1979
White, John. Duccio: Tuscan Art and the Medieval Workshop. New York, 1979: 57, 86, 89, 93, 102, 123, 125, pls. 11, 20, figs. 5, 27, 52.
1980
Conti, Alessandro. "Review of Duccio, Tuscan Art and the Medieval Workshop by John White." Prospettiva 23 (1980): 99-101.
1981
Carli, Enzo. La pittura senese del Trecento. 1st ed. Milan, 1981: 49.
1981
Seidel, Max. "Das Frühwerk von Pietro Lorenzetti." Städel Jahrbuch 8 (1981): 105.
1983
Brink, Joel. "From Carpentry Analysis to the Discovery of Symmetry in Trecento Painting." In La pittura nel XIV e XV secolo, il contributo dell’analisi tecnica alla storia dell’arte. Edited by Hendrik W. van Os and J. R. J. van Asperen de Boer. Bologna, 1983: 347.
1983
Pope-Hennessy, John. "Some Italian Primitives." Apollo 118 (1983): 10.
1984
Brown, Howard Mayer. "Catalogus. A Corpus of Trecento Pictures with Musical Subject Matter, pt. 1." Imago Musicae 1 (1984): 242-243.
1984
Deuchler, Florens. Duccio. Milan, 1984: 73, 74, 76, 77, 214, 78 (repro.), pls. 134-136, 157.
1984
Os, Hendrik W. van. Sienese Altarpieces 1215-1460. Form, Content, Function. 2 vols. Groningen, 1984-1990: 1(1984):43, 46, figs. 41, 42.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 68, no. 9, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 137, repro.
1985
Sutton, Denys. "Aspects of British Collecting, pt. 4." Apollo 122 (1985): 123, 124 repro.
1985
Wilkins Sullivan, Ruth. "The Anointing in Bethany and Other Affirmations of Christ’s Divinity on Duccio’s Back Predella." The Art Bulletin 67 (1985): 33, 34, 35, 46-47, figs. 1, 2, 25.
1986
Leoncini, Monica. "Duccio di Boninsegna." In La Pittura in Italia. Il Duecento e il Trecento. Edited by Enrico Castelnuovo. 2 vols. Milan, 1986: 2:569.
1987
Simpson, Colin. The Partnership: The Secret Association of Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen. London, 1987: 236.
1987
White, John. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1250 to 1400. The Pelican History of Art. 2nd (integrated) ed. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1987: 291, 627, figs. 173-174.
1988
Davies, Martin, and Dillian Gordon. National Gallery Catalogues. The Earlier Italian Schools. Rev. ed. London, 1988: 17, 20.
1988
Sebag-Montefiore, Charles. "Three Lost Collections of London." National Art Collections Fund Magazine 38 (Christmas 1988): 54.
1988
Tronzo, William. "Between Icon and the Monumental Decoration of a Church: Notes on Duccio’s Maestà and the Definition of the Altarpiece." In Icon: Four Essays. Washington, DC; Baltimore, 1988: repro. 38-39.
1988
Wheeler, Marion, ed. His Face: Images of Christ in Art, New York, 1988: 126, no. 45, color repro.
1988
Wilkins Sullivan, Ruth. "Duccio’s Raising of Lazarus Reexamined." The Art Bulletin 70 (1988): 375 n. 6.
1989
Bomford, David, Jill Dunkerton, Dillian Gordon, Ashok Roy, and Jo Kirby. Art in the Making: Italian Painting before 1400. Exh. cat. National Gallery, London, 1989: 73-74 (repro.), 190, fig. 40.
1989
Carli, Enzo. Il Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. Opera della Metropolitana di Siena. Siena, 1989: 22.
1989
"Duccio di Buoninsegna." In Dizionario della pittura e dei pittori. Edited by Enrico Castelnuovo and Bruno Toscano. 6 vols. Turin, 1989-1994: 2(1990):139.
1989
Ragionieri, Giovanna. Duccio: catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1989: 12, 13, 14, 16, 88, 89, 104, repros.
1989
Vos, Rik, and Hendrik W. van Os, eds. Aan de oorsprong van de schilderkunst: vroege italiaanse schilderijen in Nederlands bezit. The Hague, 1989: repro. 126.
1990
Boskovits, Miklós, and Serena Padovani. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Early Italian Painting 1290-1470. London, 1990: 72, 73, 74 fig. 2.
1991
Bellosi, Luciano. "Duccio di Buoninsegna." In Enciclopedia dell’arte medievale. Edited by Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana. 12 vols. Rome, 1991-2002: 5(1994):746.
1991
Jannella, Cecilia. Duccio di Buoninsegna. Antella (Florence), 1991: 22, 24, 30, 31, 36, 38, pls. 28, 43.
1991
Riedl, Helmut Philipp. Das Maestà-Bild in der sieneser Malerei des Trecento unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Darstellung im Palazzo Comunale von San Gimignano. Tübingen, 1991: 16, figs. 8, 11.
1991
Zeri, Federico. Giorno per giorno nella pittura: scritti sull’arte toscana dal Trecento al primo Cinquecento. Turin, 1991: 520, 521.
1992
Hall, Nicholas H. J., ed. Colnaghi in America: A Survey to Commemorate the First Decade of Colnaghi, New York. New York, 1992: 9, 10, fig. 2.
1992
Landi, Alfonso, and Enzo Carli (commentary). “Racconto” del Duomo di Siena (1655). Florence, 1992: 106-107 n. 21.
1992
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 11, repro.
1992
Schmidt, Victor M. "Duccio di Buoninsegna." In Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: Die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker. Edited by Günter Meissner. 87+ vols. Munich and Leipzig, 1992+: 30(2001):157.
1993
Harpring, Patricia. The Sienese Trecento Painter Bartolo di Fredi. London and Toronto, 1993: 70, repro. 72.
1996
Apostolos Cappadona, Diane. Encyclopedia of Women in Religious Art. New York, 1996: 47, fig. 14.
1996
Gordon, Dillian. “Duccio (di Buoninsegna).” In The Dictionary of Art. Edited by Jane Turner. 34 vols. New York and London, 1996: 9:344-345.
1996
Popp, Dietmar. Duccio und die Antike: Studien zur Antikenvorstellung und zur Antikenrezeption in der sieneser Malerei am Anfang des 14. Jahrhunderts. Munich, 1996: fig. 41.
1997
Moskowitz, Anita Fiderer. "A Late Dugento Male Nude Studied from Life." Source 16 (1997): 7 n. 11.
1998
Bellosi, Luciano. Duccio, la Maestà. Milan, 1998: 17, 22, 264, 268, repro. 274.
1999
Schmidt, Victor M. "A Duccesque Fragment of the Coronation of the Virgin." Bulletin du Musée Hongrois des Beaux-Arts 90-91 (1999): 42 n. 10.
2001
Strehlke, Carl Brandon. "Carpentry and Connoisseurship: The Disassembly of Altarpieces and the Rise in Interest in Early Italian Art." In Rediscovering Fra Angelico: A Fragmentary History. Edited by Laurence B. Kanter and Carl Brandon Strehlke. Exh. cat. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 2001: 41-42, repro.
2002
Schmidt, Victor M. "Duccesque Painting Representing St John the Baptist Bearing Witness in the Museum of Fine Arts." Bulletin du Musée Hongrois des Beaux-Arts 96 (2002): 54, repro. 55.
2002
Seiler, Peter. "Duccio’s Maestà: The Function of the Scenes from the Life of Christ on the Reverse of the Altarpiece." In Italian Panel Painting of the Duecento and Trecento. Edited by Victor M. Schmidt. Studies in the History of Art 61 (2002): repros. 252 and 253, 271-272 n. 26.
2003
Bagnoli, Alessandro, Roberto Bartalini, Luciano Bellosi, and Michel Laclotte, eds. Duccio: Siena fra tradizione bizantina e mondo gotico. Exh. cat. Santa Maria della Scala, Siena; Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena. Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), 2003: 218-220.
2004
Eclercy, Bastian. Suis manibus? Studien zur Beteiligung von Mitarbeitern am Entwurfsprozess von Duccios Maestà. Munich, 2004: 53, 74.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 10, no. 5, color repro.
2004
Secrest, Meryle. Duveen: A Life in Art. New York, 2004: 337.
2004
Strehlke, Carl Brandon. Italian Paintings, 1250-1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 2004: 130-131 repro.
2006
Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, 2006: 106, color fig. 4.6, no. 12.
2006
Sander, Jochen, Matthias Theodore Kloft, Rita Sauer, and Stefan Weppelmann. Kult Bild: das Altar- und Andachtsbild von Duccio bis Perugino. Exh. cat. Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main. Petersberg, 2006: 70, 71, 74.
2010
Sahaydachny, Antonina. "The Madonna Protectress of Siena in the Maestà Altarpiece by Duccio (1308-1311)." In 1308: eine Topographie historischer Gleichzeitigkeit. Edited by Andreas Speer and David Wirmer. Berlin, 2010: 664.
2011
Gordon, Dillian. The Italian Paintings Before 1400. National Gallery Catalogues. London, 2011: 175-176, under no. NG1330, color fig. 2.
2013
Cappelletti, Lorenzo. "La vocazione dei santi Pietro e Andrea, o piuttosto l’imposizione del nome di Cefa (Pietro) a Simone." Arte cristiana 101, no. 877 (2013): repro. 274.
2013
"Vasari and the National Gallery of Art." National Gallery of Art Bulletin 48 (Spring 2013): 10-11, repro.
2015
Bowron, Edgar Peters. “Samuel H. Kress and His Collection of Italian Renaissance Paintings.” In A Market for Merchant Princes: Collecting Italian Renaissance Paintings in America ed. Inge Reist. (The Frick Collection Studies in the History of Art Collecting in America, 2) University Park, Pennsylvania, 2015: 113, color fig. 49.
Technical Summary

The support consists of a single piece of horizontally grained wood, cradled by Stephen Pichetto in 1935 and probably thinned (thickness 0.9 cm) at that time. Before the painting process, fabric and gesso layers were applied to the panel. The main contour lines were incised into the gesso, and red bole was applied to the areas to be gilded. Infrared reflectography at 1.1 – ​2.5 microns [1] reveals underdrawing marking the main folds of the garments, the facial features, and hatching in the boat. It also shows that Christ’s face and proper right foot were moved. The paint was applied in thin, smooth layers.

The gold ground is probably modern, but the paint surface is only slightly worn. The two apostles probably had incised halos, which have completely disappeared. Small areas of inpainting are intended to conceal the prominent, vertical linear cracks in the panel that appear throughout the composition. In an area between the left edge of the boat and the left edge of the panel a series of thin, vertical, white lines form a kind of hatching. These lines seem to be a combination of damage and inpainting. They do not appear in early twentieth-century photographs,[2] and therefore the inpainting was probably added during the 1935 restoration. At that time, in addition to cradling the panel, Pichetto removed a discolored varnish and inpainted the losses. The similar but diagonally aligned hatching that appears in the water to the right of the net full of fishes also probably dates from the same intervention.

Altarpiece Reconstructions

Click on any panel in the altarpiece reconstruction below to see an enlarged version of the image. Color reproductions in the reconstruction indicate panels in the National Gallery of Art collection.

Reconstruction of the back of the predella of Duccio di Buoninsegna's Maestà

a. Saint John the Baptist Bearing Witness (Entry fig. 2)
b. Temptation on the Temple (Entry fig. 3)
c. Temptation on the Mountain (Entry fig. 4)
d. The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew
e. The Wedding at Cana (Entry fig. 5)
f. Christ and the Samaritan Woman (Entry fig. 6)
g. Healing of the Man Born Blind (Entry fig. 7)
h. The Transfiguration (Entry fig. 8)
i. The Raising of Lazarus (Entry fig. 9)

Reconstruction of the front of the Maestà altarpiece for Siena Cathedral by Duccio di Buoninsegna:

1. The Annunciation (The National Gallery, London)
2. Isaiah (National Gallery of Art, Washington)
3. The Nativity (National Gallery of Art, Washington)
4. Ezekiel (National Gallery of Art, Washington)
5. The Adoration of the Magi (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
6. Solomon or David (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
7. The Presentation in the Temple (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
8. Malachi (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
9. The Massacre of the Innocents (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
10. Jeremiah (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
11. The Flight into Egypt (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
12. Hosea (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
13. Christ among the Doctors (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
14. The Virgin and Child, Saints, and Angel (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
15. Saint Thaddaeus (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
16. Saint Simon (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
17. Saint Philip (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
18. Saint James the Great (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
19. Saint Andrew (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
20. Saint Matthew (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
21. Saint James the Less (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
22. Saint Bartholomew (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
23. Saint Thomas (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
24. Saint Matthias (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
25. The Annunciation of the Virgin’s Death (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
26. The Virgin’s Farewell to Saint John (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
27. The Virgin’s Farewell to the Apostles (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
28. The Coronation of the Virgin (lost)
29. The Assumption (lost)
30. The Death of the Virgin (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
31. The Funeral of the Virgin (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
32. The Entombment of the Virgin (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)

Reconstruction of the back of the Maestà altarpiece for Siena Cathedral by Duccio di Buoninsegna:

1. John the Baptist Bearing Witness (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest)
2. Christ’s Temptation on the Temple (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
3. Christ’s Temptation on the Mountain (Frick Collection, New York)
4. The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew (National Gallery of Art, Washington)
5. The Wedding at Cana (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
6. Christ and the Samaritan Woman (Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid)
7. The Healing of the Blind Man (The National Gallery, London)
8. The Transfiguration (The National Gallery, London)
9. The Raising of Lazarus (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth)
10. The Entry into Jerusalem (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
11. The Washing of the Disciples’ Feet (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
12. The Last Supper (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
13. Christ Taking Leave of the Apostles (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
14. Judas Taking the Bribe (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
15. The Agony in the Garden (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
16. The Betrayal of Christ (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
17. The First Denial of Saint Peter (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
18. Christ before Annas (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
19. The Second Denial of Saint Peter (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
20. The Third Denial of Saint Peter (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
21. Christ Accused by the Pharisees (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
22. Christ before Pilate (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
23. Christ before Herod (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
24. The Mocking of Christ (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
25. The Flagellation (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
26. The Crowning with Thorns (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
27. Pilate Washing His Hands (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
28. Christ Carrying the Cross (lost)
29. The Crucifixion (lost)
30. The Deposition (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
31. The Entombment (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
32. The Holy Women at the Tomb (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
33. The Descent into Limbo (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
34. Noli me tangere (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
35. The Way to Emmaus (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
36. The Apparition behind Closed Doors (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
37. The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
38. The Apparition on the Sea (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
39. Christ in Glory or The Last Judgment (lost)
40. The Ascension (lost)
41. The Apparition in Galilee (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
42. The Apparition at Supper (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)
43. Pentecost (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena)

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