The Nativity between Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel

Duccio di Buoninsegna, The Nativity between Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, 1308-11. Tempera on wood, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Duccio di Buoninsegna (circa 1260 to circa 1319) was an Italian artist who specialized in creating works of art for important government and religious buildings throughout Italy in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Duccio was a major influence on his successors and is credited with developing a unique Sienese style of painting using traditional Byzantine elements. This work was commissioned for a huge altarpiece for the Cathedral of Siena. This nativity scene is from the predella, or platform on which the altar stands. The central panel shows Mary—rendered larger than the other figures to show her importance—reclining in the safety of the manger walls. The vibrant colors of red, blue, and purple against a glowing golden backdrop create a sensitive and reverent composition. The prophets Isaiah (left) and Ezekiel (right) hold scrolls that portend the birth of Christ.

 

Duccio di Buoninsegna, The Nativity between Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, 1308-1311.

Birth, often accounts about the birth of Jesus.

Relating to the Byzantine empire, which ruled the Eastern Mediterranean from the fifth century CE to 1453; its capital was Byzantium (modern Istanbul).

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