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Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255/60–1318)

  1. George Thomas Kurian

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0452

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Kurian, G. T. 2011. Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255/60–1318). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Sienese painter. He is infused with the spirit and intensity of the Franciscan and Dominican revival. His first work was the Rucellai Madonna (Uffizi), the 14 foot high altarpiece commissioned by the Florentine church of Sta Maria Novella. But his masterpiece was the even larger Maesta painted between 1308 and 1311. It presented two faces: The front of the Panel represents the Madonna and the Child enthroned in majesty surrounded by the saints, while the back of the panel, 12 feet by 14 feet, has a number of smaller panels from the Passion. Originally there were saints and apostles in the small pinnacles but they have either disappeared or been dismembered. In the front panel four angels stand behind the throne tenderly gazing at the Madonna and the Child. Saints stand in a row with four kneeling at the front and there are more angels in rows behind them. The back of the altarpiece was clearly visible to the congregation. Its 14 panels tell the entire story of the Gospel of which 12 panels are divided into two, making 26 narratives in all. The story begins with Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and successive panels show his arrest and trial, the Resurrection, and the Risen Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene. In the last panel the risen Christ appears incandescent with gold in the folds of his garment. The crowning panels in the front of the Maesta illustrate the life of the Virgin from the Annunciation to the Dormition and the predella tells the story of Christ's Nativity and his journey to the Temple. John White describes it as the “most important panel ever painted in Italy and certainly the most beautiful.” Other works attributed to him include the exquisite gemlike panel entitled Madonna of the Franciscans.


  • Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255/60–1318);
  • Franciscan and dominican revival;
  • florentine church of Sta Maria Novella;
  • Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem;
  • the resurrection, and the risen Christ, appearing to Mary Magdalene;
  • masterpiece, the even larger maesta;
  • life of the Virgin, the annunciation to the dormition