Room 52

Siena, 1300–1450

In the late Middle Ages the Republic of Siena was one of Europe’s smallest but wealthiest states. Siena’s political independence, however, was precarious. Its people believed it was the result of the decisive intervention of the Virgin Mary in a battle against Florence, Siena’s deadliest enemy, in 1260.

The city made the Virgin Mary its queen, and in 1308 commissioned its greatest painter, Duccio, to make a large, double-sided altarpiece called the Maestà in her honour, for the high altar of Siena’s cathedral. The front shows the Virgin and Child in the court of Heaven, while the back – visible only to the clergy – tells 40 episodes from Christ’s life.

Several paintings from the Maestà, which was dismantled in the 18th century, are shown in this room. It became the key reference point for all subsequent Sienese painters. They admired Duccio’s evocation of Byzantine icons, his elegant use of colour, line and pattern, and also his experimentation. His pictures have a sense of depth and space that marks a turning point in Western painting.

Duccio’s followers, who included Simone Martini, Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Ugolino di Nerio, developed his innovations in different ways. Sienese painting was prized and copied all over Europe – even in Florence.

Paintings in this room

Giovanni di Nicola: 'Saint Anthony Abbot'
Saint Anthony Abbot
Giovanni di Nicola
Ambrogio Lorenzetti: 'A Group of Poor Clares'
A Group of Four Poor Clares
Ambrogio Lorenzetti
Master of the Casole Fresco: 'The Virgin and Child with Six Angels'
The Virgin and Child with Six Angels
Master of the Albertini (Master of the Casole Fresco)
Master of the Palazzo Venezia Madonna: 'Saint Mary Magdalene'
Saint Mary Magdalene
Master of the Palazzo Venezia Madonna
Master of the Palazzo Venezia Madonna: 'Saint Peter'
Saint Peter
Master of the Palazzo Venezia Madonna
Niccolo di Buonaccorso: 'The Marriage of the Virgin'
The Marriage of the Virgin
Niccolò di Buonaccorso
Style of Segna di Bonaventura: 'Crucifix'
Crucifix
Segna di Bonaventura
Ugolino di Nerio: 'David'
David
Ugolino di Nerio
Ugolino di Nerio: 'Isaiah'
Isaiah
Ugolino di Nerio
Ugolino di Nerio: 'Moses'
Moses
Ugolino di Nerio
Ugolino di Nerio: 'Two Angels'
Spandrel Angels
Ugolino di Nerio
Ugolino di Nerio: 'Two Angels'
Spandrel Angels
Ugolino di Nerio
Ugolino di Nerio: 'The Betrayal of Christ'
The Betrayal of Christ
Ugolino di Nerio
Ugolino di Nerio: 'The Deposition'
The Deposition
Ugolino di Nerio
Ugolino di Nerio: 'The Resurrection'
The Resurrection
Ugolino di Nerio
Ugolino di Nerio: 'The Way to Calvary'
The Way to Calvary
Ugolino di Nerio
Follower of Duccio: 'The Virgin and Child with Four Angels'
The Virgin and Child with Four Angels
Attributed to Ugolino di Nerio