the Maestà altarpiece by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-1311, tempera and gold on wood, 213 × 396 cm, Museo dell’OPerA Metropolitana del Duomo, Siena
The Maestà of Duccio is an altarpiece composed of many individual paintings commissioned by the city of Siena in 1308 from the artist Duccio di Buoninsegna. The painting was installed in the cathedral of Siena on June 9, 1311. The front panels make up a large enthroned Madonna and Child with 19 saints and 11 angels, and a predella of the Childhood of Christ with prophets. The reverse has the rest of a combined cycle of the Life of the Virgin and Life of Christ in a total of forty-three small scenes; several panels are now dispersed or lost.
The altarpiece remained in place until 1711, when it was dismantled in order to distribute the pieces between two altars. The five-meter high construction was dismantled and sawn up, and the paintings damaged in the process. Partial restoration took place in 1956. The dismantling also led to pieces going astray, either being sold, or simply unaccounted for. Extant remains of the altarpiece not at Siena are divided among several other museums (among others, the Szépművészeti in Budapest).