Duccio's Madonna and Child

Duccio di Buoninsegna, Madonna and Child, tempera and gold on panel, c. 1300
(Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Speakers: Dr. David Drogin, Dr. Beth Harris


In this period and for many hundreds of years later, Italy was not a unified country, but rather was divided into many small countries we call city-states. Florence, Siena, Milan,, Venice -- these were essentially their own countries, with their own governments. The city-states were often at war with eachother.

Siena had a unique style emphasizing decorative surfaces, sinuous lines, elongated figures and a heavy use of gold. Duccio is the founder of the Sienese style, and his work is quite different from Giotto's, since Giotto emphasizes a greater naturalism -- creating figures who are more monumental (large and feeling the pull of gravity, in correct proportion) and a greater illusion of three-dimensional space.

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