Maesta Altarpiece, Duccio di Buoninsegna: Interpretation, Analysis читать ~5 мин.Раздел в процессе наполнения и корректировки
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Maesta Altarpiece by Duccio di Buoninsegna Interpretation of Tempera Polyptych of the Sienese School of Painting MAIN A-Z INDEX
Maesta Altarpiece (detail) By Duccio di Buoninsegna.Regarded as one of theGreatest Paintings Ever.
ContentsDescription • Interpretation of Maesta Altarpiece • Further Resources
Description Artist : Duccio di Buoninsegna (c.1255-1319) Medium : Tempera and gold on wood Genre : Altarpiece art Movement : Sienese School of Painting Museum : Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana del Duomo, Siena and elsewhere.
For the meaning of other pictures, see: Famous Paintings Analyzed.
Posters of Maesta AltarpieceFine art posters of paintingsby Duccio di Buoninsegna, are widely available online.See also: Poster Art.
Art AppreciationTo understand works likethe Maesta Polyptychby Duccio di Buoninsegna, see our educationalarticle for students:Art Evaluation:How to Appreciate Art.
See also:How To Appreciate Paintings.
A perfect example of religious art of the early 14th century Siena, the Maesta (from the Italian for "in majesty", that is: Madonna and Child Enthroned with Angels and Saints) is a vast, horizontal style, two-sided wooden screen, originally designed for the high altar of Siena Cathedral. Created by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1260-1319), the leading figure in the Sienese School of Painting during the trecento, it was painted in the flat hieratic style of Byzantine art, using egg-tempera on wood. Although the figures shown in the work are stylish and elegant, they lack the new naturalism introduced by Giotto (1266-1337) and the Florentine School. Even so, the work had a significant effect on Christian art in Tuscany, comparable to Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel frescoes at Padua. Originally measuring some 16 feet in width, the Maesta was dismantled in the late 18th century, when parts of it were sold. The main front panel of the polyptych is in the Cathedral museum (Siena Museo dell’Opera del Duomo), while some of the other 40 or so panels have been acquired by several art museums in Europe and America, including National Gallery (London), Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Madrid), the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC), Frick Collection (New York), Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth).
More Analysis of Maesta Altarpiece
Composition Overall, the composition of the altarpiece follows the conservative Sienese traditions of the Proto-Renaissance. The front of the Maesta, the side facing the congregation, was designed for devout contemplation and depicts the Virgin and Child in majesty, surrounded by a host of angels and saints. Above and below this main scene are scenes from the Life of Christ and the Virgin, along with smaller figures of Saints. It seems likely that most of these miniature scenes would only have been visible to the priest. The rear of the Maesta, designed as a commentary on the gospels, is occupied by 26 scenes from the Passion, while above and below them are smaller panels decorated with scenes from the Life of Christ, including: the Annunciation; Isaiah; the Nativity; Ezekiel; the Adoration of the Magi; Solomon; the Presentation in the Temple; Malachi; the Slaughter of the Innocents; Jeremiah; the Flight into Egypt; Hosea; the Disputation with the Doctors; Temptation on the Temple, the Temptation on the Mount, the Calling of Peter and Andrew, the Wedding at Cana, Christ and the Samaritan, the Healing of the Blind Man, the Transfiguration and the Resurrection of Lazarus.
On both sides, the most important figures (like the Virgin) are created larger than the lesser ones (saints), while each saint is clearly identifiable by their clothes and/or personal objects. The background of the painting is pure gold leaf, while the layout is rigidly symmetrical.
Decorative Byzantine Style Although, as stated, Duccio remained within the conservative Byzantine-style idiom of Sienese fine art painting, the Maesta contains numerous innovations. The figures on the front screen, for instance, have greater weight and solidity than previous works, and are endowed with greater characterization and a new livelier spirit. There is real movement in them – they are not simply stiffly positioned against a gold backdrop. At the same time, the holy stories pictorialized on back of the Maesta make up a skilled narrative which is at least equal to Giotto in its layout, though perhaps not in its iconography, since Duccio was happy to rely on tried and tested Byzantine motifs and models for most of his New Testament Biblical art. In addition, in his overall decorative scheme, Duccio introduced greater elegance and a bold use of colour. Unlike Giotto, he employed gold (and other rich, subtle colours) as an aesthetic feature in its own right, rather than simply as a functional feature to give added impact to figurative forms. Duccio’s emphasis on the decorative links him to Gothic art, in particular the International Gothic style of the early 14th century.