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[Music] we're in the Museum of the Cathedral of Siena and we're looking at probably the single most famous work of art from Siena certainly one of the most important works of art from the 14th century this is duccio's - stop the title means the Virgin Mary in majesty and we see her very large in the center of the main panel she's by far the largest figure anywhere in this painting this is a blip dick it's made out of many many panels not all of which are here in the museum unfortunately the Maya says painted on both the front and the back so Mary's on the front and stories of Mary's life were on the front but the story of Christ is on the back so in a sense this is a free-standing painting it is this large sculptural object that has all this imagery all over it and the figures the Saints and prophets and angels are almost life-size it's true there are three rows of them and they're lined up almost as if it were for a class picture there are four local Saints in front and then angels and saints in the second row and I think a unbroken row of angels in the back now we would have originally seen a pradilla below that is a step of small paintings and then above the large panel there would have been a series of scenes as well we think that the pradhana would have held scenes of the early life of the Virgin Mary and then above her death and ascent into heaven and then there would have been a really elaborate frame in the previous century Siena had won a significant battle against its archrival Florence now both Siena and Florence were wealthy city-states that is they were independent nations and they were often at war with each other Siena believed that they won because of the grace of Mary many years later the town of Siena commissioned their most famous painter Duccio to create a very large painting with dedicated to the Virgin Mary it would have stood exactly on the altar of the Cathedral in the crossing just under the dome as you approach the high altar you would be able to make out just at the bottom an inscription that read Holy Mother of God be the cause of peace to Siena and to the life of duty oh because he has painted thee thus now Sienna was very much competitor with Florence and the great Florentine painter of the day was Giotto he had painted a major cycle telling the story of the Virgin Mary of Christ's parents of Christ himself and in some ways the Maya style was a kind of answer to that we can do this - we can be as comprehensive and have a masterpiece and I think they prove that they did something that rivals what Giotto did in the arena Chapel but well Joe's painting was fresco fresco didn't make sense for the cathedral of Siena because the cathedral of Siena is made of alternating blocks of black and white marble it has a very decorative interior that wouldn't have worked with fresco and so it made sense to do a panel painting for the altarpiece and you have to remember that at the end of the medieval Mary had taken on an enormous ly important role she was the bridge that normal people could access Christ through you would speak and pray to the Virgin Mary and she would perhaps speak to her son on your behalf right she had the role of an intercessor or someone who intercedes between God and mankind as is traditional she is garbed in his intense blue which must have been fabulously expensive given all the lapis that would have been required to produce that ultramarine paint there is this beautiful embroidered gold in the street behind her there are a lot of decorative surfaces that was something that was particularly the Sienese style there is a sense of delicacy and subtlety look for instance at the clothing that Christ is swaddled in there's a kind of transparency around his leg as a beautiful modulation of light and shadow this real cuter School Road that's being used here not only striations of gold this is not the earlier work of chima boy this is an artist - - who's moving steadily and carefully and obviously very consciously towards creating a sense of real mass and real volume the drapery around Christ is so softly and beautifully modeled look at how Christ with his left and pulls at the drapery you see those folds that pull towards yes that's right and that modeling that we see under Christ's chin and neck who really is three-dimensional in the way that we begin to see artists like Joe also in the early 1300s creating forms that are three-dimensional and look at the face of Christ there is a look of awareness of the kind of wisdom that is piercing he seems to look directly at us yeah and it is the stare of a fully conscious adult the angels are remarkably animated some look at Mary some look away some look at us there's the kind of informality it's true that vim formality is so unexpected you would expect something a lot more rigid this is the court of heaven after all which is really quite wonderful and gives it a sense of complexity here I'm also noticing the lovely curls that make up the wings of the Angels that somehow actually start to almost feel like feathers they create a sense of volume those wings are not flat and if we look down at the ground we see the throne opening out moving into our space now remember in the medieval era with cathedrals and churches in general were not open for people to walk through as they are now and the lay people that is everyday people would have gone to the front of the church only the area of the altar the back of the church would have been reserved for those that were associated directly with the church and it's interesting to think about the mayest on relationship to this it meant that the public would have had access to the side of the painting that focused on the Virgin Mary the intercessor between man and the divine but a more privileged view perhaps was available to the monks to the priests to those that were associated directly with the church let's walk around to the back and take a look at those panels [Music]