Siena in the Late Gothic (1300s)

By the early fourteenth century, Siena was a wealthy and cosmopolitan city.


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For centuries, Siena’s role in the history of European art was underappreciated.

Duccio, <em>Maestà</em>
Duccio, Maestà

Many, many panels made up this massive altarpiece. Dedicated to Mary, it stood in the crossing of Siena Cathedral.

Simone Martini, <i>Maestà</i>
Simone Martini, Maestà

The Queen of Heaven presides over the space where government officials in Siena met to make decisions

Simone Martini, <em>Annunciation</em>
Simone Martini, Annunciation

Girl, interrupted—Mary’s initial reaction to Gabriel adds human experience to the dignity and grace of this scene.

Duccio, Heaven on earth— <em>The Rucellai Madonna</em>
Duccio, Heaven on earth— The Rucellai Madonna

Sure, decorative patterns and prismatic color impress us now, but gold and ultramarine once broadcast value.

Siena in the Late Gothic, an introduction
Siena in the Late Gothic, an introduction

Whether church decoration or public works, the art of this wealthy city blended devotional piety and civic pride.

Pietro Lorenzetti, <em>Birth of the Virgin</em>
Pietro Lorenzetti, Birth of the Virgin

Take a peek into a 14th-century household! This painting transplants a biblical story into a busy Sienese bedroom.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, <em>Allegory and Effects of Good and Bad Government</em>
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Allegory and Effects of Good and Bad Government

Things get ugly when tyrants take over! But with peace, fortitude, and prudence, Siena prospers—an urban paradise.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, <em>Presentation of Jesus in the Temple</em>
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

The receding columns and painted ceiling of this fictive temple mirror the Gothic environment of Siena Cathedral.

Duccio, <em>The Virgin and Child with Saints Dominic and Aurea</em>
Duccio, The Virgin and Child with Saints Dominic and Aurea

This little altarpiece was made to move—just like the saints on its wings, who seem to step out into our space.

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