Maesta - Duccio di Buoninsenia. 1308-1311
Duccio wrote his masterpiece "Madonna on the Throne" in the form of a polyptych (screen) for the main altar of the cathedral in Siena, where it was installed in 1311. Maesta Theme - Madonna and Childsitting on a throne surrounded by a heavenly retinue was very popular in Italy of the 13th-14th centuries, and the famous work of Duccio played an important role in establishing this tradition. Although the golden background of the painting, the pose of the Madonna and Child, the skillfully crafted throne, portraits of 10 of the 12 apostles in the niches of the upper row, looking directly at the viewer, all this indicates that the early Siena painters copied the Byzantine icon-painting canon, but the location and individualization of the saints and angels around the throne are features of a more recent, less inert approach. The Madonna and Child, with all solemnity, are more alive than on the earlier images of the Madonna; faces are already more open, rounded and lively; surprisingly subtly conveyed the expression of devotion and sweet piety in the faces of saints and angels. Maesta Duccio was conceived as an expression of his urban patriotism: the four patron saints of Siena - Anzania, Savino, Crescenzio and Vittore - are kneeling in the foreground, and the Latin inscription on the throne elevation conveys a request to Madonna to give Siena peace and life to the artist.
In the second row behind the kneeling saints, on each side of the throne are two angels (next to the throne) and three saints. From left to right, the saints are depicted: Catherine of Alexandria, Paul, John the Theologian (on the right hand from the throne), John the Baptist, Peter and Agnes - they are all easily recognizable by their characteristic attributes. In the upper part of the composition (from left to right) ten apostles are depicted, namely: Judas, Simon, Philip, James the Elder, Andrew (on the right side), Matthew the Publican, James the Younger, Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew. The name of each apostle is abbreviated.
APOSTLES. After the resurrection of Christ, 11 of his 12 disciples became apostles, i.e. preachers of his teachings: Andrew, Bartholomew, James the Elder, James the Younger, John, Thaddeus, Matthew, Peter, Philip, Simon and Thomas. The first missionaries of Paul and Barnabas are also sometimes called apostles.