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4.1 ARTH 213, October 3rd

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Art History
ARTH 214
Cathleen Hoeniger

ARTH 213 Renaissance Art and Architecture Wednesday, October 3 2012rd **Slide Test Next Week** Sienese Art of the Early Trecento Theme: Art in Historical Context Documentary information that provides insight into the initial creation of works of art and their original functions – Two case studies: 1. A historical narrative relating the creation of the work and its purpose and destination: Duccio’s Maesta for the high altar of Siena Cathedral 2. Original inscriptions on the Work of Art itself, and Simone Martini’s Maesta, 1215-16 Historical Data of Siena  Anything that was new in Siena had to follow the architectural style of the previous buildings to continue the uniformity of the city  Sacred center of the city around the Cathedral o Lower half of the façade done by Giovanni Pisano  Secular center of the city around town hall and piazza del campo Chronicle of Siena, Attributed to Agnolo di Tura (15 century).  Regarding Duccio’s Maesta Entry for the date: 9 June 1311: “The Sienese bore Duccio’s Altarpiece to the cathedral on Wednesday, the ninth day of June, with great devotions and processions; with the bishop of Siena, all of the cathedral clergy…the city governors and officials, and all of the most worthy citizens in order, lighted lamps in their hands.. And thus afterward, the women and children went in procession through Siena around the Piazza del Campo, all the bells sounding a Gloria. And all the day the shops remained closed for devotion, and throughout Siena many alms were given to poor people, with many orations and prayers to God and to his Mother, Madonna always Virgin Mary, that she might aid, conserve and increase the city of Siena and its jurisdiction in peace and in a good state, as the advocate and protectress of this city and save it from every peril and every evil act against it. And thus was the painting placed in the cathedral on the high altar.”  Virgin Mary was the patron Saint of Sienna  Wanted her to help with Sienna’s economic growth Interior of Siena Cathedral. Begun during the first half of the 13 century and completed in the early 1270s. View towards the High Altar  The high altar was originally further down in the nave – was just at the end where the congregation sat  Would have been beside the pulpit  The clergy (who sang the mass) sat behind the altar Vasari  Looked at art in a historical context What kind of information can the art historian draw upon to recreate the context of an original piece of art?  Often there isn’t much that survived to tell us why art was created  Much history writing was done in the form of chronicles in the 14 century Reconstruction of Front of Duccio’s Maesta, 1308-11  When it was removed and placed in the sacristy it was no longer valued because the artistic style had fallen out of favour o It was cut up into many different pieces (which have ended up in different museums throughout the world) o Maesta (translation: Majesty) = Virgin Mary seated as Queen of Heaven – to either side are the members of her court  Was crowned by Christ after her assumption into Heaven  Angels and Saints to either side (to her proper right are two patron saints of Sienna, to her left are two other patron saints of Sienna – there were altars to these Saints all over the city)  Great importance in Sienna for gaining the Virgin’s good will  Very expensive, costly work of art – painted on both sides  Wanted to gain the Virgin’s good will  This is a huge altar piece o A donation to the Virgin to gain her favour so that she would protect the city – a very expensive donation  The back of the altar o Specifically directed at the clergy o A much more learned and detailed sequence of images  The congregation got a big dramatic image of the patron saints of the city and the Virgin surrounded by her court, much more detailed and specialized imagery of the life of Christ on the back for the clergy o Beginning of the Passion, the Last Supper, the Kiss of Judas, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection  7 feet high by 13.5 feet wide, painted on both sides of a wooden panel o So thick that it’s been chopped in half – the front and back have been separated o Weighed at least 1000 lbs. – it was carried through the streets of Sienna on procession to the high altar  Central image of the Virgin Enthroned o Very recognizable image o Colour used to show different figures so the members of the congregation far away could see  Typical byzantine positioning (Hodegetria) and throne  Patron saints are in red because it jumps out  Painted in great detail – doesn’t just communicate to the congregation at large  Imitation of a royal throne room o Virgin is seated on a pillow covered in silk with Islamic inscriptions  Middle-eastern silk, luxury  Spanish textile patterning o The richest silks cover the throne of the Queen o Very elaborate marble throne  The best that Siena had to offer – best work being offered to the Virgin Mary  From the front predella (the lowest part of the altar piece) o Functional purpose  A big large wooden block that would support the altarpiece (was also supported by side struts because it was so heavy) o Scene of the Nativity and Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel  Located in Washington at the National Gallery of Art  Compare to Giotto’s Nativity scene in the Arena Chapel  Manages to squeeze a lot of information into a small space  Joseph is awake, the Shepherds have arrived, Midwives bathing the Christ child  Different moments in time connected to the same even  Main back panel o Very detailed and learned o Small panels o Duccio may have been familiar with Giotto’s works in Padua o Most likely used a byzantine manuscript that had a detailed cycle of manuscript illumination o Temptation of Christ on the Mountain  Christ is pushing the demon away  Satan shown as a monster (half human, half raptor) – birdlike features  Christ is resisting Satan’s temptation  Christ is seen as the second Adam  Redressing the sins of Adam and Eve  Rejecting the devil and sending him away  Christ and Mary would renounce sin for the afterlife  Average life-span at this time was about 35 years  Very high rates of child and maternal death  Models of small city states  Christ is protecting these Tuscan city states (Sienna is one of these) o Crucifixion  Christ faces his right side  The good thief to Christ’s on the right, and the bad thief on the left  Angels above Christ are reacting very emotionally to the event  Was not new to Giotto or Duccio – a part of the Byzantine tradition  Segregated in a way which we would deem extremely racist  Bad men (Roman soldiers and those that are gesticulating and cursing Christ) on the left – a very agitated group  Roman soldiers are depicted  Muslim faith is represented (men in the white head scarves)  Group to the right is focused on the Virgin  Dominated by the fainting Virgin o Even though she has foreknowledge of his fate
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