Early Italian Renaissance Art: Florentine vs. Sienese Art

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During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, a transformation occurred in Italy with respect to society, economics, politics, and religion. One of the major factors that led to such a change was the shift from a farming culture to a culture of industry dominated by merchants. This led to an urban economy, the expansion of cities, and the alteration of government to accommodate the growing population. In addition, Christian sects such as the Franciscans and the Dominicans began to form, advocating new religious philosophies involving bringing faith to the masses. This combination of reform in the economy and in organized religion brought about an increase in the production of art. The creation of artworks became an esteemed industry, and…show more content…
In terms of subject matter, both works are visual depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In each painting, Christ is the central figure, surrounded by two groups of figures. On the left, a group of women that includes the Virgin Mary mourns over the dead body of Christ, while on the right is a group of soldiers and other lamenters. Both works feature a rocky landscape on which the figures are positioned. Encircling Christ are several angels whose gestures of lamentation echo those of the figures below. Highlighting the severity of each scene is the blood that pours from Jesus' wounds. The blood from his feet drips onto human bones that are embedded in the rocky terrain below. The skull serves as a "memento mori," or a reminder of death, an idea that has been repeated in several other depictions of Christ's crucifixion.

Because Duccio's work is a triptych, beautifully articulated figures have been added to the wings of the piece and above Christ himself. On the left wing, illustrated as a bishop, is Saint Nicholas, a religious figure known for secret gift-giving and working miracles. On the right is Saint Gregory (also Pope Gregory I), a monastic pope known as the "Doctor of the Church." Above the crucifixion scene is a representation of the risen Christ, flanked by two angels. This could serve as a reminder that eternal life exists after

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