Artist: Duccio di Buoninsegna
Medium: Tempera on wood.
Size: 50 x 53 cm
Date: c. 1308-11
Location: Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena.
John 16:1-33 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. [...] I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” [...] Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” Jesus replied, “Do you now believe? A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Duccio portrays Jesus giving the new commandment to the apostles (now eleven), Judas having already betray Him. His sideways position, shown up by the half-open door, is in contrast to the close-knit group of disciples. They are all turning the same way in thoughtful attitudes, the soft drapery of their colored robes animating the whole scene. Duccio has avoided haloes since the conspicuous shape of the golden discs might have created an overpowering effect, besides taking up most of the space in the picture.
Duccio di Buoninsegna (c. 1255-1260 – c. 1318-1319) was the first great Sienese painter, and one of the most influential Italian artists of his time. Born in Siena, Tuscany, he worked mostly with pigment and egg tempera and like most of his contemporaries painted religious subjects. He influenced Simone Martini and the brothers Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti, among others. Duccio sums up the grave and austere beauty of centuries of Byzantine tradition and infuses it with a breath of the new humanity which was being spread by the new Orders of SS. Francis and Dominic.