When is a painting not just any painting? When it becomes a signature work of art. Namely, "Madonna and Child," by Duccio di Buoninsegna, acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY for $45 million. Purchased in November 2004, this extraordinary tempura and gold on wood painting was executed 1295-1300. Remarkably, it is in its original frame with an "illusionistic parapet," a technique which would later become popular in Renaissance paintings. (Note: this tiny panel, 8" X 11", was originally intended for private devotion.)
This is one of a few works by the Sienese artist intended as an individual work, not part of an altarpiece. Duccio is better known for the Maesta altarpiece in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Siena (1308-11). The rich colors Duccio used were to become the standard for all Sienese painters.
This Biblical subject was painted by Duccio in a very unique manner for his time. The artist rejected the flat representation of earthly and heavenly beings that was the style of Medieval and Byzantine art. Instead, Duccio shows a baby Jesus touching His mother’s veil, and the Virgin’s distant expression. What is Mary thinking? Perhaps the sadness in knowing that her only begotten son will someday die for the sins of mankind.
Let’s not overlook the wonderful drapery in the Madonna’s veil and the cloth on the lap of the baby Jesus. The intent here is to show the human form of the body. Unheard of before his time.
The Christmas season is a very special time of year to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. What better time to view Duccio’s "Madonna and Child?" Be sure to visit the Medieval Sculpture Hall on the 1st floor to see the traditional holiday Christmas tree and 18th-century Neopolitan Nativity scene. Thanks to our founding fathers for freedom of speech in the USA. May the Nativity scene continue to be a part of Christmas, lest we allow others to take religion out of Christmas. Happy Holidays!
To view this exquisite painting, copy and paste into your browser the Metropolitan Museum of Art link:
When visiting NY (or any city), it is vital to have a guide book. But what about a guide book for a museum? Perfect, "The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide Book." I own it and love the size and wealth of information on many of their works of art and collections. A must have!
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