Thursday, September 25, 2014

Duccio, the Master of Siena

One of my greatest delights in producing the Sacred Art Series has been my re-discovery of the works of Fra Angelico and Giotto, and my discovery of the great Sienese artist, Duccio. That I am only discovering Duccio now is a tragedy, and bespeaks the ignorance that so many of us have regarding art. Hence, one of the goals of the Sacred Art Series is to expose young Christians to the works of these master artists. 

In future posts, I will address Fra Angelico, Giotto, and others, but let us begin with Duccio.

Duccio's masterpiece is the Maesta (c. 1311), which Duccio designed as an altar piece for the marvelous cathedral in Siena, shown below.

Sadly, the Maesta no longer remains as a single piece; individual parts of the painting have been cut up and scattered to various collections around the world. But some clever folks have created their own digital reproduction of how it likely looked.

The front shows Mary and the Christ child, with scenes from the life of Mary at the bottom.

The back shows the life of Christ, with many images showing His Passion, and with the central image being the Crucifixion. Many of these excellent scenes from the Maesta are included in my forthcoming Sacred Art Series publication, The Holy Gospels of Luke and John.

My brother-in-law John Joy was so impressed by Duccio's Maesta that he produced his own book based solely on the work of Duccio, and supplemented with the Gospel passages that support each image. It's available from Amazon here.

For those interested in learning more about Duccio, here are videos from the Khan Academy's excellent  "Smart History" series. These two are regarding the Maesta. Other Duccio videos are available here.

Here's what Wikipedia says on Duccio; and on the Maesta.

And here are the paintings of Duccio available through wikiart.org.