Maesta Altarpiece

Maesta Altarpiece




Figure1 Duccio di Buoninsegna`s

The is comprises of many separate paintings and is oneof the best religious art works from Siena of the early 14thcentury. Maesta is Italian for ‘in majesty’, meaning: Madonnaand Child Enthroned with Angels and Saint(Weigelt, 1930).Duccio di Buoninsegna (c. 1255-1319) created the Maesta in theByzantine art flat hieratic style on wood using egg-tempera and gold(Satkowski&ampMaginnis, 2000). Duccio di Buoninsegna was SieneseSchool of Painting’s leading figure during the trencento, when theItalian Renaissance culture movement was beginning. The MaestaAltarpiece can be found in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art,Washington DC’s National Gallery of Art, Siena’s Museo dell’OperaMetropolitana del Duomo and elsewhere.

Whilethe figures depicted in this work are elegant and stylish, they arelacking in Giotto’s (1266-1337) and Florentine School’s newlyintroduced naturalism (Magginis, 2000). Even so, the painting hugelyimpacted on Christian art done in Tuscany, just as did Giotto’spainting Scrovegni Chapel frescoes in Padua.

Themost important figure, that is the Virgin, is created bigger than thelesser figures – i.e., the saints – and every saint can beidentified clearly by their personal objects and/or their clothes.The layout of the painting is rigidly symmetrical, with a backgroundof pure gold leaf.

Ifind richness of color and material as well as deep beauty of line inDucciodi Buoninsegna’s . In the past weeks I would termthis work as imaginative and imperfect of the artist, but now Iunderstand that creating such work in the 14thcentury involved lots of difficulty and I appreciate the presentationof this dreamlike and lyrical masterpiece.


Maginnis,H. B. (2000). Paintingin the age of Giotto: a historical reevaluation.Brookings Institution Press.

Satkowski,J., &ampMaginnis, H. B. (2000).Ducciodi Buoninsegna: the documents and early sources(Vol. 5). Univ of Georgia Georgia Museum.

Weigelt,C. H. (1930). Sienesepainting of the Trecento.Hacker Art Books.