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Reconstructing Duccio by Lesley Kerman

Various dates


Entry included with Cathedral visitor ticket or pass

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Reconstructing Duccio by Lesley Kerman
Tuesday 19 March - Saturday 20 April

In the Lady Chapel

Duccio di Buoninsegna is a Sienese painter from the 13th century, overlooked as a Renaissance pioneer because Vasari failed to include this work in his ‘Lives of the Artists’. Vasari who was from Florence went to Siena specially to see the painting but couldn’t find it. He was therefore able to hail Giotto, also from Florence, as the sole great Innovator of the Renaissance.

The other reason for Duccio’s relative neglect is that his greatest work was dismantled in the eighteenth century. His Maesta´(Majesty in English) dates from ten years before the foundation stone of the Lady Chapel was installed at Ely Cathedral.

In just over two years the artist had delivered the largest and most complex altarpiece probably ever produced in Italy: up to eighty separate painted panels - on the front Mary and various Saints, and on the reverse 26 scenes of the Passion, designed to sit right in front of the clergy stalls, for their contemplation and inspiration. Duccio’s creation was so prized by the city that when on 9 June 1311, the five metre high art work was transferred to Siena’s magnificent duomo, the shops were all closed and the citizens followed through the streets in solemn procession.

Two centuries later the altarpiece was removed from the high altar in 1771 as it was decided to separate the two faces of the work and it was sliced in half like a piece of french toast. A partial restoration was undertaken in 1956 and while most of what is left now lives in the Cathedral Museum in Siena, several pieces fund their way to Museum’s around the world, including three in the National Gallery London.

The work in the Lady Chapel is a reconstruction of the passion scenes from the Maesta´by Devon artist and historian Lesley Kerman. In 2016 she embarked on a full scale reconstruction by these 26 panels, starting with Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and running through to the Resurrection and beyond, and we are delighted to be displaying the work here in Ely Cathedral.

Entry included with Cathedral visitor ticket or pass.
Please check for any planned changes to opening hours before your visit.