Tuesday, June 9, 2015


June 9, 1311 the City of Siena was shut down and all hands were in the streets, carrying candles and celebrating the installation of Duccio's Maesta in the cathedral. The altarpiece had been over three years in the making.

The medium is tempera on wood with gold overlays.  Duccio is credited with having been a leader in the turning of Western art from the Byzantine to a more realistic representation of the artist's subjects.



More than four hundred years later, 1771, the masterpiece was sawed into pieces, dismantled, and effectively flung to the four winds.  Parts of it have been recovered and reassembled, some of it finds residence in musea across the face of the Earth, and parts of it are still missing, likely shall always be missing.  It is thought that cutting it up was a commercial venture, that is, to make the "parts" more saleable and more easily transported.  A principal portion resides in a museum in Siena, its hometown.

Source:  Masterpiece Cards and various websites.


Secondary Roads said...

That's a fancy piece of art. Any idea why it was disassembled?

vanilla said...

Chuck, my sources are vague and not entirely in agreement. The source I cited says the altarpiece was dismantled in 1771. Wikipedia article says 1711. At any rate, a number of the original artworks were removed from the Duomo and replaced by others. Much of the Maesta is in the Opera Museum of the Duomo in Siena. As I suggested, it is thought that parts of it were sold and some have been recovered, some not.

Sharkbytes said...

Interesting. I was not around in 1311. Neither were you, I'm pretty sure.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, true. I'm old, but not that old.