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The Virgin and Child with Saints Dominic and Aurea

Duccioabout 1312-15 (?)

The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery, London

The seven figures in the tympanum above the central panel, are the Old Testament prophets Daniel, Moses, Isaiah, David, Abraham, Jacob and Jeremiah; on the left wing, Saint Dominic; on the right wing, Saint Aurea (probably Aurea of Ostia).

It may have been made for the private devotion of Cardinal Niccolò da Prato (died 1321), a high-ranking Dominican who was Cardinal of Ostia and would therefore have had reason to venerate Saint Aurea of Ostia, otherwise rarely shown.

This type of small-scale altarpiece with closing shutters was intended to be portable.The dimensions of this triptych are identical to those of a triptych of 'The Crucifixion with Saints Nicholas and Gregory' on the shutters (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts) which also seems to have been painted in Duccio's workshop. The exterior of the shutters in both triptychs have the same geometric patterns. The geometric patterns painted on the shutters prompt the worshipper as to the correct order of opening.

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Details

  • Title: The Virgin and Child with Saints Dominic and Aurea
  • Creator: Duccio
  • Date Created: about 1312-15 (?)
  • Physical Dimensions: 61.4 x 39.3 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Egg tempera on wood
  • School: Italian (Sienese)
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG566
  • Full Title: The Virgin and Child with Saint Dominic and Saint Aurea, and Patriarchs and Prophets
  • Artist Biography: Duccio was one of the most important painters of 14th-century Italy. He ran a large workshop which shaped generations of Sienese artists. His pupils were influential on Florentine art. His greatest work was the double-sided altarpiece, the 'Maestà', made between 1308-11. The Gallery's 'The Annunciation', 'Jesus opens the Eyes of a Man born Blind' and 'The Transfiguration' are fragments from it. Duccio's date of birth is not known but he was active in Siena by 1278, and spent most of his working life there. He is unusual among medieval artists for being well documented. Duccio's art is based on Byzantine sources, but was deeply influenced by the sculpture of the Pisani and by French Gothic metalwork. His work is both decorative in the use of line, colour and pattern, and highly expressive. He is less interested in volume, than his younger contemporary Giotto. 'The Maestà' was one of the largest and most complex altarpieces ever produced. Its influence can be seen in the predella panels for an altarpiece by the Sienese painter Ugolino, which imitates the treatment of subjects in the 'Maestà'.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bought, 1857

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