Duccio di Buoninsegna was probably the starter of the great age of the Sienese art School. The only sources of information about him are official records such as payments, contracts, changing of address or civil penalties and something else by the history of its pupils: Simone Martini (aggiungi link alla pagina di Simone Martini) and brothers Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti. Although as a young man Duccio di Buoninsegna probably worked in Assisi, he spent virtually his entire life in Siena. In fact, Duccio seems to have played an important role in the period of economic and artistic expansion of this town, particularly when Siena and Florence was in challenge for the artistic and politics supremacy of central Italy. Most of art historians consider him one of the most influential artists of his time and a character who contributed to the creation of the International Gothic style.
Duccio di Buoninsegna is trained in the rigid Byzantine style of painting but succeeds in adding more life and emotion to his work than his predecessors, the same that we’ll see in its pupils and in Simone Martini mostly. Many of his larger works are surrounded by smaller tableaux showing scenes from everyday life. He worked mostly with pigment and egg tempera (aggiungi link alla pagina egg tempera) and like most of his contemporaries he painted religious subject matters.
Ten of Duccio di Buonisegna’s works have survived the ages. The best known is the Maestà, a large altarpiece ordered by the city magistrates for the Siena cathedral. Originally the Maestà measures 5 by 5 meters. The name refers to the central part, which depicts the Virgin and Child enthroned and surrounded by angels and saints. Next to the central panel are tens of smaller panels, some of which are shown on this site. The original 84 panels are completed between 1308 en 1311. In 1711 the work is dismantled. Most panels can still be viewed in the Siena Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. Others works include the Rucellai Madonna (1285) for Santa Maria Novella (now in the Uffizi), the Crevoli Madonna (1280), the Madonna of the Franciscans (1300), Madonna in the Galleria Nazionale of Perugia, The Holy Virgin with the Christ Child and Four Saints (1300), The Holy Virgin and the Christ Child with St. Dominic and St. Aurea (1300), St. Mary Magdalene in Pinacoteca Nazionale of Siena.