MUSEO DELL’OPERA METROPOLITANA
The Museum dell’Opera Metropolitana, also known as Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, is adjacent to the Duomo (Cathedral).
It was constructed into the unfinished right aisle of the Cathedral in order to preserve the artworks which were removed from the Duomo along the centuries, as well as many important works created by the most celebrated exponents of the Scuola di Siena from the 13th to the 16th century.
Among other outstanding sculptures, the big room in the ground floor displays the twelve imposing Gothic statues created by Giovanni Pisano between 1287 and 1297, which originally adorned the lower part of the façade of the Duomo. Among them make stand out the statues representing: Platone, Mosè, Sibilla, Simeone and the so called Maria di Mosè.
In the centre of the room stands the superb marble panel representing “Madonna e Sant’Antonio Abate che raccomanda il Cardinale Antonio Casini” (“The Presentation of the Cardinal Casini to the Holy Virgin and St. Anthony Abbot”) carved in relief by Jacopo Della Quercia in 1438, which is considered his last masterpiece as the brilliant artist completed it some days before dying. Another main work housed in the ground floor is the splendid Renaissance marble lunette of the “Madonna con Bambino” (“Holy Virgin and Child”) attributed to Donatello.
The ground floor houses as well a series of bas-relieves from the 13th to 15th century and a magnificent frontage of a Roman sarcophagus which is fixed to the wall.
Close to the entrance of the room visitors can also admire the sublime “Madonna con Bambino” created around 1270 by Diotisalvi de Speme, a prestigious Sienese medieval painter who was one of the guide lines of the great Duccio di Buoninsegna.
An entire room on the first floor preserves the unquestionably late medieval masterpiece hosted in Siena, and also one of the main paintings of the age ever produced in Europe: the “Maestà” by Duccio di Buoninsegna (active in Siena from 1278 to 1319).
The “Maestà with Twenty Angel and Nineteen Saints” is an immense double-sided altarpiece (4.5 meters wide and more than two meters high) which consists of a series of panels representing sacred scenes related to the Life of Jesus Christ and to the Holy Virgin.
The front and back of the panels were separated in 1771.
The ones depicting twenty six episodes of the Life of Jesus Christ, since his entry into Jerusalem till his Passion, in tempera and gold on wood, are set opposite to the ones representing the “Maestà”, which include the Holy Virgin and Child surrounded by angels and saints.
The amazing altarpiece was commissioned from Duccio in 1308 for being arranged as in the predella as at the back of the High Altar of the Duomo. Duccio completed it in 1311 with a splendid combination of Byzantine iconographic tradition and Gothic style.
The altarpiece was removed from the Cathedral of Siena near the beginning of the 16th century. After a long succession of removals between different religious sites and store rooms, in 1871 it was preserved at the Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana.
Because of that fact several panels were damaged, sold or even lost.
Nowadays eight panels originally set in the predella are hosted in foreign museums, while others pertain to private art collections.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE MUSEO DELL OPERA METROPOLITANA CLICK HERE
What to See
The Cathedrals : Duomo di Siena
Main Monuments : Piazza del Campo , Palazzo Piccolomini
Main Museums : Museo dell' Opera di Siena , Museo dei Fisiocritici
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