Duccio

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Duccio
Maesta 021.jpg
Born c. 1255–1260
Siena, Republic of Siena
Died c. 1318–1319
Siena, Republic of Siena
Known for Painting
Notable work Rucellai Madonna (1285), Maestà with Twenty Angels and Nineteen Saints (1308-1311)
Movement Sienese school, Gothic Style

Duccio di Buoninsegna (Italian: [ˈduttʃo di ˌbwɔninˈseɲɲa]; c. 1255-1260 – c. 1318-1319) was an Italian painter, active in the city of Siena in Tuscany, where he was born, in the late 13th and early fourteenth centuries.

He is considered to be the father of Sienese painting and along with a few others the founder of Western art. He was hired throughout his life to complete many important works in government and religious buildings around Italy. Duccio is credited with creating the painting style of Trecento and the Sienese school, and contributed significantly to the Sienese Gothic style.

Biography[edit]

Much about his early life and family is uncertain; but there are records that say he was married with seven children. Although there is a lot still unconfirmed about Duccio and his life, there is more documentation of him than of other Italian painters of his time and earlier. A large part his life must be reconstructed from the evidence of works that can be attributed to him with certainty, and from the evidence contained in his stylistic development.

There are many times that he had debts and fines, leading historians to believe that he had a difficult time managing his life and his money. His artistic talents were enough to overshadow his lack of organization as a citizen, and he became famous in his own lifetime. In the 1300s Duccio became one of the most favored and radical painters in Siena.

Artistic career[edit]

The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew (from the Maestà), c. 1308-1311.

Where, and with whom, Duccio studied under is still a matter of great debate, but by analyzing his style and technique art historians have been able to limit the field.[1] Many believe that he studied under Cimabue, while others think that maybe he had actually traveled to Constantinople himself and learned directly from a Byzantine master, mostly due to Duccio’s painting style so closely resembling artwork of Byzantium,

Little is known of his painting career prior to his first documented commission in 1278, when, at the age of 23, he was hired to paint 12 wooden panels to cover government documents for The Nine. This work is now lost. Although Duccio was active from 1268 to about 1311 only approximately 13 of his works survive today. [2]

Only two of Duccio's surviving works can be securely dated. Both were major public commissions:[3] the "Rucellai Madonna" (Galleria degli Uffizi), commissioned in April 1285 by the Compagnia del Laudesi di Maria Vergine for a chapel in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, and the Maestà commissioned for the high altar of Siena Cathedral in 1308 and completed by June 1311.[4]

Style[edit]

Madonna with child, the child pulling the madonnas hair

There is no clear evidence that Duccio painted frescoes.[1] His known works are on wood panel, painted in egg tempera and embellished with gold leaf. Different from his contemporaries and artists before him, Duccio was a master of tempera and managed to conquer the medium with delicacy and precision. Duccio’s style was similar to Byzantine art in some ways, with its gold backgrounds and familiar religious scenes but also different and more experimental. Duccio’s paintings are warm with color, and inviting. His pieces held a high level of beauty with delicate details, sometimes inlaid with jewels and almost ornamental fabrics. Duccio was also noted for his complex organization of space. Characters were organized specifically and purposefully. In his Rucellai Madonna c. 1285 the viewer can see all of these qualities at play. [5] Duccio began to break down the sharp lines of Byzantine art, and soften the figures. He used modeling (playing with light and dark colors) to reveal the figures underneath the heavy drapery; hands, faces, and feet became more rounded and three-dimensional.

Duccio was also one of the first painters to put figures in architectural settings. He began to explore and investigate depth and space. He also had a refined attention to emotion, not seen in other painters at this time. The characters interact tenderly, and softly with each other, it is no longer Christ and the Virgin, it is mother and child. With this he flirts with naturalism but his paintings are still awe inspiring. Duccio’s figures seem to be out of this world and heavenly; existing elsewhere with beautiful colors, soft hair, gracefulness and draped in textures not available to mere humans. His influence can be seen in the work of many other painters, including Simone Martini and the brothers Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti.

Known surviving works[edit]

Opera del Duomo in Siena
Madonna with Child, c. 1300-1305.


  • Madonna with Child - Tempera and gold on wood, Museo d'arte sacra della Val d'Arbia, Buonconvento, near Siena
  • Gualino Madonna - Tempera and gold on wood, Galleria Sabauda, Turin
  • Madonna with Child and two Angels (Also known as the Crevole Madonna; c. 1280) - Tempera and gold on wood, Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana, Siena
  • Madonna with Child enthroned and six Angels (c. 1285) - Also known as the Rucellai Madonna / Madonna Rucellai - Tempera and gold on wood, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy (on deposit from Santa Maria Novella)
  • Crucifix - Tempera on wood, Odescalchi Collection, Rome, formerly in the Castello Orsini at Bracciano
  • Crucifix (Grosseto) (1289), - Church of San Francesco, Grosseto
  • Madonna of the Franciscans (c. 1300) - Tempera and gold on wood, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena
  • Assumption, Burial and Crowning of the Virgin - Stained glass window, Siena Cathedral
  • Maestà - Tempera and gold on wood - Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland
  • Madonna and Child - Tempera and gold on wood, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (formerly in the Stoclet Collection, Brussels, Belgium)[3][6]
  • Madonna with Child and six Angels - Tempera and gold on wood, Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, Perugia, Italy
  • Polyptych: Madonna and Child with Saints Augustine, Paul, Peter, Dominic, four angels and Christ blessing (also known as Dossale no. 28; c. 1305) - Tempera and gold on wood, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena
  • Polyptych no. 47: Madonna and Child with Saints Agnes, John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, and Mary Magdalene; ten Patriarchs and Prophets, with Christ blessing - Tempera and gold on wood, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena
  • The Surrender of the Castle of Giuncarico - Fresco, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena
  • Maestà with Episodes from Christ's Passion - Tempera and gold on wood,- Duomo, Massa Marittima, Italy
  • Small Triptych: Flagellation of Christ; Crucifixion with Angels; Deposition in the Tomb - Tempera and gold on wood, Società di Esecutori di Pie Deposizioni, Siena
  • Small Triptych: Madonna and Child with four Angels, Saints Dominic, Agnes and seven Prophets / Madonna con Bambino e con quattro angeli, i santi Domenico, Agnese, e sette profeti - Tempera and gold on wood - The National Gallery, London, England
  • Portable Altarpiece: Crucifixion with Christ blessing; St Nicholas; St Gregory - Tempera and gold on wood, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA[7]
  • Small Triptych: Crucifixion with Angels; Annunciation and Madonna with Child and Angels; Stigmata of St Francis with Madonna and Christ enthroned - Tempera and gold on wood, Royal Collections, Hampton Court, near London, England
  • Maestà (Madonna with Child Enthroned and Twenty Angels and Nineteen Saints) - Tempera and gold on wood, Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana, Siena
  • Maestá (The Temptation of Christ on the Mountain) - Tempera and gold on wood - The Frick Collection, New York

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Smart 1978, p. 39.
  2. ^ smarthistory.khanacademy.org/duccio-madonna.html
  3. ^ a b "Madonna and Child Duccio di Buoninsegna (Italian, active by 1278–died 1318 Siena)". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Smart 1978, p. 40.
  5. ^ Polzer, Joseph (2005). "A Question of Method: Quantitative Aspects of Art Historical Analysis in the Classification of Early Trecento Italian Painting Based on Ornamental Practice". Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorisches Institutes in Florenz 49: 33–100. Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Christiansen, Keith. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2004–2005." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 63 (Fall 2005), pp. 14–15, ill. on cover (color, cropped) and p. 14 (color).
  7. ^ Boston MFA

Sources[edit]

  • Beck, James (2006). Duccio to Raphael. European Press Academic Publishing. ISBN 8883980433. 
  • Smart, Alastair (1978). The Dawn of Italian Painting 1250–1400. Oxford: Phaidon. ISBN 0714817694. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bellosi, Luciano (1999). Duccio: The Maestà. New York: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 9780500237717.
  • Bellosi, Luciano; Ragionieri, Giovanna (2003). Duccio di Buoninsegna. Giunti Editore. ISBN 9788809032088.
  • Jannella, Cecilia (1991). Duccio di Buoninsegna. Scala/Riverside. ISBN 9781878351180.

External links[edit]