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.
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.
The episode illustrated in the panel is that recounted in the synoptic Gospels of the calling of the first two apostles: Jesus
See Mt 4:18 – 20; Mk 1:16 – 18; Lk 5:1 – 11.
Terms that refer broadly to the study of subjects and themes in works of art. Iconology, which is based on the results of iconography, is the more wide-ranging and comprehensive. One of the principal concerns of iconography is the discovery of symbolic and allegorical meanings in a work of art. —Willem F. Lash, Grove Art © Oxford University Press
Guido da Siena had proposed a similar composition in his Pala di S. Pietro, no. 15 in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena.
A horizontal band, cut from a single plank, below the main panels of an altarpiece. The appearance of the predella can be seen as part of the development of the altarpiece from a single panel to a large, multilevel polyptych. The small figures or scenes painted on the predella formed part of the integrated program of the altarpiece, providing a visual commentary on the major images above and at the same time physically raising the main panels, thus improving their visibility. —Ronald Baxter, Grove Art © Oxford University Press
An image-bearing structure set on the rear part of the altar, abutting the back of the altarblock, or set behind the altar in such a way as to be visually joined with the altar when viewed from a distance. It is also sometimes called a retable, following the medieval term retrotabulum. The altarpiece was never officially prescribed by the Church, but it did perform a prescribed function alternatively carried out by a simple inscription on the altarblock: to declare to which saint or mystery the altar was dedicated. In fact, the altarpiece did more than merely identify the altar; its form and content evoked the mystery or personage whose cult was celebrated at the altar. This original and lasting function influenced the many forms taken by the altarpiece throughout its history. —Alexander Nagel, Grove Art © Oxford University Press
The altarpiece of monumental dimensions and complex structure, of which The Nativity and The Calling of the Apostles formed part, is unusually well documented.
For the relevant documentation, cf. Jane Immler Satkowski, Duccio di Buoninsegna: The Documents and Early Sources, ed. Hayden B. J. Maginnis (Athens, GA, 2000), 69 – 81; Alessandro Bagnoli et al., eds., Duccio: Siena fra tradizione bizantina e mondo gotico (Cinisello Balsamo, Milan, 2003), 577 – 579.
Various scholars rightly have accepted John Pope-Hennessy’s suggestion that the document of 1308 could not have been the original contract. Luciano Bellosi, however, thought that the work was executed between October 1308 and June 1311. See John Pope-Hennessy, “Some Italian Primitives,” Apollo 118 (1983): 10 – 11; Luciano Bellosi, “Il percorso di Duccio,” in Duccio: Siena fra tradizione bizantina e mondo gotico, ed. Alessandro Bagnoli et al. (Cinisello Balsamo, Milan, 2003), 124.
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.
James H. Stubblebine, “Duccio and His Collaborators on the Cathedral Maestà,” The Art Bulletin 55 (1973): 185 – 204; James H. Stubblebine, “The Back Predella of Duccio’s Maestà,” in Studies in Late Medieval and Renaissance Painting in Honor of Millard Meiss, ed. Irving Lavin and John Plummer, 2 vols. (New York, 1977), 1:430 – 436; James H. Stubblebine, Duccio di Buoninsegna and His School, 2 vols. (Princeton, 1979), 1:32, 39 – 48.
“Duccius promisit . . . laborare continue in dicta tabula temporibus quibus laborari poterit in eadem, et non accipere vel recepire aliquod aliud laborerium ad faciendum donec dicta tabula conpleta et facta fuerit. . . . dominus Jacoppus operarius . . . promisit dicto Duccio pro suo salario . . . sedicim solidos denariorum Senensium pro quolibet die quo dictus Duccius laborabit suis manibus in dicta tabula” (Duccio promised . . . to work continuously upon the said panel at such times as he was able to work on it, and not to accept or receive any other work to be carried out until the said panel shall have been made and completed. . . . Lord Jacopo, clerk of works . . . promised the said Duccio as his salary . . . sixteen soldi of Sienese money for each day that the said Duccio shall work with his own hands on the said panel). Jane Immler Satkowski, Duccio di Buoninsegna: The Documents and Early Sources, ed. Hayden B. J. Maginnis (Athens, GA, 2000), 69; Alessandro Bagnoli et al., eds., Duccio: Siena fra tradizione bizantina e mondo gotico (Cinisello Balsamo, Milan, 2003), 577.
For the organization of the work and the involvement of studio assistants in the execution of the Maestà, cf. John White, Duccio: Tuscan Art and the Medieval Workshop (New York, 1979), 102 – 119; Luciano Bellosi, Duccio, la Maestà (Milan, 1998), 20. Bruno Zanardi’s observations on the system of collaboration between the painters in the fresco decoration of the basilica of San Francesco in Assisi should, however, be taken into consideration in this regard. Cf. Bruno Zanardi, Giotto e Pietro Cavallini: La questione di Assisi e il cantiere medievale di pittura a fresco, Biblioteca d’arte Skira (Milan, 2002), 39 – 83. Although in my view not always convincing, the observations of this intelligent and well-prepared restorer remain valuable, because they are the outcome of long experience with restoring medieval cycles of frescoes. The organization of teamwork between master and pupils in a cycle of mural paintings cannot have been very different from that ascertained, or assumed, in a large altarpiece like the Maestà.
Discussion has also focused on how best to interpret the iconography of the scenes on the back of the Maestà,
Cf. John White, Duccio: Tuscan Art and the Medieval Workshop (New York, 1979), 124 – 130; Florens Deuchler, Duccio (Milan, 1984), 58 – 63; Luciano Bellosi, Duccio, la Maestà (Milan, 1998), 14 – 15.
Eduard Dobbert, “Duccio’s Bild Die Geburt Christi in der Königlichen Gemälde-Galerie zu Berlin,” Jahrbuch der Preußischen Kunstsammlungen 6 (1885): 153–163.
Though Dobbert did not say so, he probably knew, either directly or at least indirectly, the five components of the back predella that passed into the hands of Fairfax Murray: The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew, Christ with the Woman of Samaria, and Raising of Lazarus, all three subsequently sold to the Benson collection in London; Healing of the Man Born Blind, sold together with the Annunciation from the front predella to the National Gallery in London in 1883; and the Transfiguration, purchased in Siena (presumably again from Fairfax Murray) by R. H. Wilson and donated to the National Gallery in London in 1891. The omission of the Temptation on the Mountain, undoubtedly in the hands of the same painter and art dealer in the early years of the nineteenth century, is difficult to explain. It was perhaps ignored merely because, according to Dobbert, no more than seven stories could have been placed on this side of the predella.
Curt H. Weigelt, “Contributo alla ricostruzione della Maestà di Duccio di Buoninsegna, che si trova nel Museo della Metropolitana di Siena,” Bullettino senese di storia patria 16 (1909): 191 – 214.
A hypothetical reconstruction of the Maestà that proposed a complete series of representations of the three Temptations would involve an intractable problem of how to coordinate panels of unequal number in the various registers of the complex: ten stories in the predella, eight in the upper register, and seven episodes of the narrative of the Passion in the main panel. The thesis of ten stories in the back predella was revived in more recent times in the reconstruction proposed by Ernest T. DeWald, “Observations on Duccio’s Maestà,” in Late Classical and Mediaeval Studies in Honor of Albert Mathias Friend Jr, ed. Kurt Weitzmann (Princeton, 1955), 367; Cesare Brandi, ed., Il restauro della Maestà di Duccio (Rome, 1959), 9.
In his efforts to complete the iconographic program in what seemed to him the most plausible way, though without taking sufficient account of the evidence of the surviving parts, Vittorio Lusini argued that the representations extended on both sides beyond the width of the main panel, also occupying the lateral pillars of the frame. Vittorio Lusini, “Di Duccio di Buoninsegna,” Rassegna d’arte senese 8 (1912): 70 – 75.
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.
Frederick A. Cooper, “A Reconstruction of Duccio’s Maestà,” The Art Bulletin 47 (1965): 163 – 164, proposed, implausibly, a predella with only six stories of the childhood of Christ, transferring the scene of Christ among the Doctors to the predella on the back. James H. Stubblebine rightly pointed out that the front and back predella must have had the same width and therefore that the back predella could not have accommodated more than nine scenes. James H. Stubblebine, “The Angel Pinnacles on Duccio’s Maestà,” Art Quarterly 32 (1969): 131 – 152; James H. Stubblebine, “The Back Predella of Duccio’s Maestà,” in Studies in Late Medieval and Renaissance Painting in Honor of Millard Meiss, ed. Irving Lavin and John Plummer, 2 vols. (New York, 1977), 1:430 – 436; James H. Stubblebine, Duccio di Buoninsegna and His School, 2 vols. (Princeton, 1979), 1:54. In his attempt iconographically to complete the subjects of the panels, he conjectured that a further two stories, a representation of Christ with the Baptist (the Baptism of Christ or the Baptist Bearing Witness) and a scene of a miracle (the Raising of Lazarus), were placed at the two narrow sides of the frame of the altarpiece, respectively flanking the episodes of Christ among the Doctors and the Transfiguration. Ruth Wilkins Sullivan made a similar proposal, though it has to be said that predellas of this type (with narrow side panels) otherwise appear in Sienese painting no earlier than the end of the fourteenth century. Ruth Wilkins Sullivan, “The Anointing in Bethany and Other Affirmations of Christ’s Divinity on Duccio’s Back Predella,” The Art Bulletin 67 (1985): 32 – 50.
The payment memorandum, undated but datable to c. 1309, referred to certain “angiolette di sopra” (little angels above) in the Maestà, which ever since Dobbert’s reconstruction (1885) were understood as panels of the highest tier. Cf. Jane Immler Satkowski, Duccio di Buoninsegna: The Documents and Early Sources, ed. Hayden B. J. Maginnis (Athens, GA, 2000), 75 – 76; Alessandro Bagnoli et al., eds., Duccio: Siena fra tradizione bizantina e mondo gotico (Cinisello Balsamo, Milan, 2003), 578. Different proposals, however, have been formulated about the form and number of the components of this third register. Dobbert assumed twelve such busts of angels, placed to the sides of the stories of Christ, while Curt Weigelt (1909) concluded that there were eight on either side of the panel. After some tentative attempts at identification, it was James H. Stubblebine (1969) who identified the four busts of angels that the more recent literature recognizes as belonging to the Maestà: those in the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley, Massachusetts; in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (J. G. Johnson Collection); in the Stichting Huis Bergh in ’s-Heerenbergh, Holland; and the panel formerly in the Stoclet collection in Brussels. According to Stubblebine there must originally have been six busts of angels, both on the front and back sides, placed to the sides of the central image. Stubblebine’s proposal regarding the round-arched termination of these panels seems unjustified, since none of the four surviving busts of angels retains its original profile. See Eduard Dobbert, “Duccio’s Bild Die Geburt Christi in der Königlichen Gemälde-Galerie zu Berlin,” Jahrbuch der Preußischen Kunstsammlungen 6 (1885): 153 – 163; Curt H. Weigelt, “Contributo alla ricostruzione della Maestà di Duccio di Buoninsegna, che si trova nel Museo della Metropolitana di Siena,” Bullettino senese di storia patria 16 (1909): 191 – 214; James H. Stubblebine, “The Angel Pinnacles on Duccio’s Maestà,” Art Quarterly 32 (1969): 131 – 152. On this question see also Giovanna Ragionieri, in Duccio: Siena fra tradizione bizantina e mondo gotico, ed. Alessandro Bagnoli et al. (Cinisello Balsamo, Milan, 2003), 25; Carl Brandon Strehlke, Italian Paintings, 1250 – 1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, 2004), 124 – 133.
John White, “Measurement, Design and Carpentry in Duccio’s Maestà, 1,” The Art Bulletin 55 (1973): 334 – 364; John White, “Measurement, Design and Carpentry in Duccio’s Maestà, 2,” The Art Bulletin 55 (1973): 547 – 569; John White, Duccio: Tuscan Art and the Medieval Workshop (New York, 1979), 94, 207 – 208. White calculated the dimensions of the individual components of Duccio’s altarpiece starting from the assumption that the artist “almost certainly used a Roriczer Progression based on the width of the main panel together with a second progression based on the diagonal of the main panel, to control the entire proportional design of his altarpiece”(White 1979, 94). On the buttresses that served to support the elaborate and heavy structure of the Maestà, cf. Christa Gardner von Teuffel, “The Buttressed Altarpiece: A Forgotten Aspect of Tuscan Fourteenth-Century Altarpiece Design,” Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 21 (1979): 21 – 65.
Alessandro Conti, “Review of Duccio, Tuscan Art and the Medieval Workshop by John White,” Prospettiva 23 (1980): 100.
Vittorio Lusini (1912) maintained that the subject represented in the central panel of the gable zone would have been a theme of particular importance and would have been linked iconographically with the central part of the main part of the altarpiece: he conjectured the Coronation of the Virgin (surmounted by the image of the Blessing Christ) over the Maestà and the Ascension (surmounted by the image of the Blessing God the Father) on the other side. Vittorio Lusini, “Di Duccio di Buoninsegna,” Rassegna d’arte senese 8 (1912): 74. This proposal still retains its validity today, though a more accredited variant is that which links the episode of the Assumption with the Coronation and the Resurrection with the Ascension; both subjects are missing from the surviving panels of the Maestà. It is very significant, moreover, that Ghiberti, speaking of Duccio and the “tavola maggiore del duomo di Siena” (high altarpiece of Siena Cathedral), said that “nella parte dinançi” (on its front side), one could see “la incoronatione di Nostra Donna” (the coronation of Our Lady); cf. Julius von Schlosser, ed., Lorenzo Ghibertis Denkwürdigkeiten, 2 vols. (Berlin, 1912), 1:43. Alessandro Conti’s hypothesis, which Giovanni Ragionieri accepted (1989), was, however, rejected by more recent studies (Schmidt 1999, 2001, 2003) and evidently was not shared by Luciano Bellosi (1998), who failed to refer to it in his study on the Maestà. See Giovanna Ragionieri, Duccio: Catalogo completo dei dipinti (Florence, 1989), 134 – 135; Victor M. Schmidt, “A Duccesque Fragment of the Coronation of the Virgin,” Bulletin du Musée Hongrois des Beaux-Arts 90 – 91 (1999): 39 – 52, 167 – 174; Victor M. Schmidt, “Duccio di Buoninsegna,” in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: Die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker, ed. Günter Meißner, 87 vols. (Munich, 2001), 30:153 – 157; Victor M. Schmidt, “Tipologie e funzioni della pittura senese su tavola,” in Duccio: Siena fra tradizione bizantina e mondo gotico, ed. Alessandro Bagnoli et al. (Cinisello Balsamo, Milan, 2003), 557, 560; Luciano Bellosi, Duccio, la Maestà (Milan, 1998). However, as Victor M. Schmidt pointed out, the “pattern of the cloth of honor behind the Virgin in the Budapest panel is a virtual repetition of that of St. Catherine’s mantle,” and “the pattern of the Virgin’s mantle in the fragment repeats that of St. Agnes”: two of the female saints that appear alongside the Madonna in the Maestà (Schmidt 1999, 40 – 42). It should also be recalled that the motifs incised in the halos of the panel in Budapest closely resemble those in Duccio’s altarpiece. According to Schmidt, the dimensions of the fragment (51.5 × 32 cm) would exclude its belonging to the Maestà, since if the parts now truncated were to be reintegrated the panel would be too big to fit into the central gable. However, the reconstruction proposed by Schmidt did not take into account uncertainties in the calculation of the original size of the Budapest fragment: the difference between its effective width and the lost width of the central gable as John White reconstructed it (77.8 cm) would, in my view, leave sufficient space to accommodate the now lost figure of Christ and the essential structures of the throne. What seems hardly compatible with Duccio’s work is not the size but the style of the Budapest fragment, with its overly dense chiaroscuro and rather schematic modeling. On the other hand, the date of execution of the painting in the Hungarian museum (also in light of the analogies of the ornamental motifs that Schmidt observed) ought to fall more or less in the same years as the Maestà. Bearing this in mind, as well as the relative rarity of the subject as a self-standing image, I cannot categorically exclude the intervention of a studio assistant in this upper zone of the complex.
Another hypothesis, formulated more recently by the present writer (1982, 1990), concerns the missing first scene of the back of the predella.
Miklós Boskovits, “Review of Duccio di Buoninsegna and His School by J. H. Stubblebine; and Duccio di Buoninsegna by J. White,” The Art Bulletin 64 (1982): 497 – 502; Miklós Boskovits and Serena Padovani, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: Early Italian Painting 1290 – 1470 (London, 1990), 76.
Though admitting the possibility that the first scene of the back predella might have been the Baptism of Christ, James H. Stubblebine wrote that “there is evidence pointing to the likelihood that the scene . . . represented the first time that the Baptist bore witness, as it is described in the Gospel (John 1: 26 – 27).” James H. Stubblebine, Duccio di Buoninsegna and His School, 2 vols. (Princeton, 1979), 53 – 54. According to Stubblebine, the painting representing this subject in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest (no. 6) could be a copy of the lost scene of the Maestà.
Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovan Battista Cavalcaselle, A New History of Painting in Italy from the Second to the Sixteenth Century, 3 vols. (London, 1864), 2:52. The attribution to Duccio was later confirmed by such connoisseurs as Robert Langton Douglas, in Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovan Battista Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in Italy from the Second to the Sixteenth Century, vol. 3, The Sienese, Umbrian, and North Italian Schools, ed. Robert Langton Douglas (London, 1908), 19 n. 2; and Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works with an Index of Places (Oxford, 1932), 176.
Victor M. Schmidt observed that in the painting now in Budapest “some significant details are at odds with the scenes . . . that surely belong to the Maestà. First, the red color of the Christ’s garment is too dark. . . . Second, Christ’s blue mantle is striated with golden striations. . . . Third, Christ’s halo . . . has painted contours.” Victor M. Schmidt, “A Duccesque Painting Representing St John the Baptist Bearing Witness in the Museum of Fine Arts,” Bulletin du Musée Hongrois des Beaux-Arts 96 (2002): 53 – 54. But in the painting’s current state, with its surface covered by a layer of grime and darkened varnish, and with the gold ground completely regilded, the first and last of these observations cannot be seriously taken into consideration. As for the second, since the mantle of Jesus also has golden striations in the last episode of the predella, the Transfiguration, it cannot be excluded that the same was also the case in the initial scene, another epiphany, in which John recognizes the Messiah in Jesus: “This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me’” (Jn 1:30). According to Anna Eörsi, the panel, which she confirmed to be probably the missing element on the back predella, illustrates the words of the Gospel of John (1:26): “there is one among you whom you do not recognize.” Anna Eörsi, “‘. . . There is one among you whom you do not recognise’: Some Golden Threads to Miklós Boskovits with Reference to Duccio’s Saint John the Baptist,” Bulletin du Musée Hongrois des Beaux-Arts 104 (2006): 63 – 73. The dimensions of the Budapest painting in its present condition (28.5 × 38 cm) are considerably smaller than those of the predella (c. 48 × 50 cm is the average size of those predella panels that have not been cropped), but it seems that it has been cut on all sides, with the possible exception of the lower side. The proportions of the figures correspond, however, to those of the protagonists in the stories of Duccio’s predella. Evidently in view of its poor condition, the painting was transferred to a new support. This operation, conducted at some point in the first half of the nineteenth century, was botched, making drastic restoration of the painting’s whole surface necessary. Johann Anton Ramboux, who had purchased the painting in Siena, said it was comparable with those preserved in the sacristy of Siena Cathedral, i.e., the surviving gable and predella panels of the Maestà. See J. M. Heberle, Catalog der nachgelassenen Kunst-Sammlungen des Herrn Johann Anton Ramboux (Cologne, May 23, 1867) no. 70. This raises the strong suspicion that it was just this episode that was still present in the sacristy of the cathedral in 1798 but was then discarded.
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.
Weigelt, who suspected the intervention of assistants in the Marian scenes of the upper register, considered the postmortem stories of Christ “ganz Schülerarbeit.” Curt H. Weigelt, Duccio di Buoninsegna: Studien zur Geschichte der frühsienesischen Tafelmalerei (Leipzig, 1911), 16. Vittorio Lusini also proposed the intervention of assistants in the gable panels, while in more recent times Enzo Carli spoke of the involvement of collaborators in the execution of the gable zone and perhaps also in the series of busts of apostles. See Vittorio Lusini, Il Duomo di Siena (Siena, 1911), 68; Enzo Carli, La pittura senese (Milan, 1955), 48; Enzo Carli, La pittura senese del Trecento (Milan, 1981), 66.
Apart from a first mention by Hayden B. J. Maginnis, it was John White who formulated a hypothesis on how such a large and complex work as the Maestà might have been painted. Hayden B. J. Maginnis, “The Literature of Sienese Trecento Painting 1945 – 1975,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 40 (1977): 279 – 280; John White, Duccio: Tuscan Art and the Medieval Workshop (New York, 1979), 93, 106 – 107. In his view, the execution must have begun only after the completion of its wooden frame. He also assumed that the painting of the huge surface must have proceeded with the use of scaffolds, as in the case of a fresco. According to White, the undated memorandum of c. 1309 that established the procedures for the payment of the rear side of the altarpiece did not mention the predella, because at the time it was not yet in the course of execution. Therefore, it would have been the last part of the complex to be executed. Julian Gardner noted that the idea of alternating narrative scenes and standing figures derives from Nicola Pisano’s pulpit in the cathedral of Siena. Julian Gardner, “Some Aspects of the History of the Italian Altar, ca. 1250 – ca. 1350: Placement and Decoration,” in Objects, Images and the Word: Art in the Service of the Liturgy, ed. Colum Hourihane (Princeton, 2003), 151.
Basing himself on the more advanced style of the scenes of the predella, Alessandro Conti suggested that it was added to the Maestà later than 1311. Alessandro Conti, “Review of Duccio, Tuscan Art and the Medieval Workshop by John White,” Prospettiva 23 (1980): 101. Except for Giulietta Chelazzi Dini et al., however, no recent scholars seem to have shared this hypothesis. Giulietta Chelazzi Dini, Alessandro Angelini, and Bernardina Sani, Pittura senese (Milan, 1997), 36.
Keith Christiansen, Duccio and the Origins of Western Painting (New York; New Haven, 2008), 29.
Miklós Boskovits (1935–2011)
March 21, 2016
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; 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; the altarpiece was moved to the church of Sant'Ansano in 1777, where its two sides were separated and returned to the cathedral; 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; Giuseppe and Marziale Dini, Colle Val d'Elsa (Siena), by 1879; 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; sold 1927 with the entire Benson collection to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold 1 October 1928 to Clarence H. Mackay [1874-1938], Roslyn, New York; sold 1934 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1939 to NGA.
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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
A mixture of finely ground plaster and glue applied to wood panels to create a smooth painting surface. —Grove Art © Oxford University Press
A photographic or digital image analysis method which captures the absorption/emission characteristics of reflected infrared radiation. The absorption of infrared wavelengths varies for different pigments, so the resultant image can help distinguish the pigments that have been used in the painting or underdrawing.
Infrared reflectography was performed with a Santa Barbara Focal plane InSb camera fitted with H, J, and K astronomy filters.
A drawing executed on a ground before paint is applied.
The layer or layers used to prepare the support to hold the paint.
Application of restoration paint to areas of lost original paint to visually integrate an area of loss with the color and pattern of the original, without covering any original paint.
See the reproduction in Portfolio of Photographic Reproductions in the Early Italian Art Exhibition (London, 1894), pl. 42; Robert Langton Douglas, ed., Exhibition of Pictures of the School of Siena and Examples of the Minor Arts of That City (London, 1905), pl. VI.
a. Saint John the Baptist Bearing Witness
b. Temptation on the Temple
c. Temptation on the Mountain
d. The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew
e. The Wedding at Cana
f. Christ and the Samaritan Woman
g. Healing of the Man Born Blind
h. The Transfiguration
i. The Raising of Lazarus
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)