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The Virgin and Child with Saints Dominic and Aurea

Duccio was the leading artist of fourteenth-century Siena. His style is characterised by elegant, flowing lines, soft colours and tender representations of the divine. Here, the Virgin’s cloak is defined by a fluid gold hem. Mother and child share an affectionate gaze as the infant Christ plays with her white veil.

The central panel is flanked by two smaller panels – depicting Saint Dominic on the left and Saint Aurea on the right – which can fold inwards to cover and protect the main image. This was essential as it was most probably designed as a portable temporary altarpiece for private prayer while travelling.

The painting was made for Niccolò degli Albertini da Prato who became Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, near Rome, in 1303. This would explain the inclusion of Saint Aurea, the patron saint of Ostia, and Dominic, for the Cardinal was himself a member of the religious order that Dominic founded in the thirteenth century.

Key facts
Artist Duccio
Artist dates active 1278; died 1319
Full title The Virgin and Child with Saint Dominic and Saint Aurea, and Patriarchs and Prophets
Date made about 1312-15 (?)
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 61.4 x 39.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG566
Location in Gallery Room 52
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