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Duccio, The Virgin and Child with Saints Dominic and Aurea

Video transcript

we're in the National Gallery in London and we're looking at a really rare painting a painting by du chí oh they're very few in the world this is a virgin child with saints it's got at the top of it a little teeny image of King David from the Old Testament and he's surrounded by Old Testament prophets who are identified with their Scrolls it's sort of standard iconography and so you have the prophets who foretell the coming of Christ and then below here we have a triptych so that when the wings are open Mary and Christ are revealed so it's kind of wonderful and that you have the prophets at the top who are always there with King David and then when the triptych is open the revealing of the truth of their prophecy comes to be yes and King David was thought to be are understood to be an ancestor of Christ and is wearing a blue that relates directly to the blue that Mary wears there is a kind of intimacy here that is absolutely revolutionary and is the foundation of the Renaissance later look at the way that the question looks up really adoringly at his mother so grabs hold of her veil to sort of make sure he sees her face and look at the delicacy of that veil I think that's one of the most beautiful areas of this painting the way in which he gathers her veil in one hand it's very sweet pulls on it with the other and it creates this very soft kind of arc between them this bridge between them do CHEO is a Sini's artist and the scene is and certainly do chose work is is characterized by its the sensitivity to the decorative both in with the subtlety of color but also in form a kind of interest in the decorative for its own sake and I think you really see that in the way that Christ pulls at the inner garment around Mary's neck and creates a series of really beautiful and rhythmic folds yeah and playful lines and curves that carry down around the golden hem of Christ's garment and Mary's garment you see it also in the rendering of Saint Oriya who's a rare Saint to be shown in paintings of this time I think of any time and Saint Dominic on the left as well both of those Saints are so direct seem to be almost stepping out of the picture plane is a sense of truthfulness of veracity almost it seems so precocious for this moment I think when we look over all of painting at this little altarpiece it would have been a private altarpiece for private devotion that someone could carry around if they moved and wanted to have the ability to worship and pray so it's important to remember that this is an aid in prayer but when we look at it there's a real sense of the physical presence of the saints on either side and of that emotional connection with Mary and her physical presence so we're seeing the beginnings of this change to the Renaissance it's so interesting that du trio is creating these connections which will lay the foundation for the Renaissance which will come a century later but at the same time this is so firmly rooted also in the medieval tradition and we're never very far from that not only do we have this broad gold fields which are really representation of the divine light of heaven there's no rational relationship between the figures in terms of scale and then of course there's that strong Byzantine influence still in the elongation of the nose look at Mary of her fingers even as Duccio begins to explore the possibility of creating a more intimate and I think emotionally charged rendering