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Triptych: Crucifixion and other Scenes

Duccio1302 - 1308

Royal Collection Trust, UK

Royal Collection Trust, UK
London, United Kingdom

The Sienese artist Duccio was one of the most innovative painters of the 14th century. His most important work is the Maestŕ, the large double-sided altarpiece completed for the high altar of Siena Cathedral in 1311. There are many parallels between the narrative panels of the life of Christ on the back of the Maestŕ and those in this small triptych (three linked panels), which would have served as a domestic devotional image. The scenes are intended to be read in sequence beginning with the Annunciation and Virgin and Child Enthroned to the left of the central Crucifixion, and continuing with Christ and the Virgin Enthroned and the Stigmatisation of St Francis on the right. The two enthronements are carefully balanced, neatly linking Christ, the Virgin Mary, who appears four times, and St Francis, who was regarded as a second Christ, having received Christ's wounds in a vision. It is likely that the triptych was commissioned for a Franciscan patron. Reconstructed before its acquisition by Prince Albert, the painting was reframed by him in one plane and was only reconstructed as an integral triptych (with a base block) during conservation in 1988. Recently it has been demonstrated that the internal perspective of the two wings was adjusted by the artist to allow for the apparent distortion resulting from their angle. This sophisticated approach explains the apparent awkwardness of the architecture behind the Virgin Mary in the Annunciation in the left wing, which is resolved when viewed from right of centre with the wings canted forward. Such skill and complexity, combined with the high quality of many of the figures, suggests that Duccio planned the painting himself, though he may have shared the execution with his assistants at a time when his workshop was helping to complete the Maestŕ. The triptych, a work of great richness on a small scale, was the first undoubted work by Duccio to enter a British collection.

Details

  • Title: Triptych: Crucifixion and other Scenes
  • Creator: Duccio
  • Creator Lifespan: c.1255 - c.1319
  • Date Created: 1302 - 1308
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Supplied by Royal Collection Trust / (c) HM Queen Elizabeth II 2012
  • External Link: http://www.rct.uk/collection/400095
  • Medium: Tempera on panel
  • Provenance: Johann Baptist Metzger (d. 1844); from whom bought by Prince Albert, through Ludwig Gruner, 7 April 1846 (Ł190, with Shearman 1983, no. 252)
  • Object description: Central panel: Christ on the cross erected on Golgotha, the skull beneath, the Virgin Mary standing to the left and St John to the right; two mourning angels flying above the cross; in the double spandrel above two further angels. Left wing: the Annunciation in the upper part, the Virgin and Child with four angels below. Right wing the Stigmatization of St Francis in the upper part, Christ and the Virgin enthroned with six angels below.

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