Duccio, Di Boninsegna

, was an artist who flourished in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but in what school he was educated is uncertain. Sigismondo Tizio, of Castiglione, who lived at Siena from 1482 to 1528, in his histories, speaks of him as the first artist of his time, (1311), and makes him a pupil of Segna, a name as celebrated once as now obscure. The works of Duccio are from 1275, the year in which he received a commission for S. Maria Novella at Florence, to 1311, the period at which he was employed in the cathedral of Siena, to paint the principal altar-piece, a work that still exists, which marks probably an epoch of art, at which he laboured three years, and for which he was paid upward of 3000 scudi d’oro, the expence of gilding and ultramarine included. That part of it which faced the audience, represented in large figures the Madonna and various saints; that which fronted the choir, divided into many compartments, exhibited numerous compositions of gospel subjects in figures of small proportions: it cannot be denied, that with all its copiousness, the whole savours strongly of the Greek manner. Duccio is celebrated as the restorer of that inlaid kind of Mosaic, called “lavoro di commesso,” which composes the floor of the dome of Siena. 3