The Early Modern World, C. 1300–1600


Who were key Proto-Renaissance painters in Siena?

Thirteen and fourteenth century Siena (about forty miles southwest of Florence) was a hotbed of late Gothic, pre-Renaissance art production. The art of Siena rivaled that of any other city of the age. One of the most important artists working in Siena, Duccio di Buoninsegna (referred to simply as “Duccio”), is considered to be the father of Sienese painting. Duccio is known for the Maestà Altarpiece he made for the Siena Cathedral between 1308 and 1311. This piece is influenced by earlier Byzantine styles of art. The enormous altarpiece, originally made up of over fifty panels, is dominated by red and gold colors and presents the Virgin Mary enthroned as the “Queen of Heaven” in the center panel; her highly decorative throne opens up as if welcoming viewers into an embrace, a big change from the flatness of earlier Gothic and Byzantine images. Mary is surrounded by a sea of saints, each framed by the flat disc of a halo behind the head. The infant Christ, imagined as a small man, sits weightlessly in Mary’s lap. Unfortunately, this beautiful example of Sienese art was dismantled in the eighteenth century and sold piece-by-piece to museums and private collections. Some remaining pieces have been reassembled and are on display in the Siena Cathedral.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Art History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App