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The West Facade Of Siena Cathedral


Derry, Ireland

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Wall Art


Artist's Description

Another capture of the west facade of the beautiful Duomo of Siena in Tuscany.
Siena’s Cathedrale di Santa Maria, better known as the Duomo, is a gleaming marble treasury of Gothic art from the 13th and 14th centuries.
Siena’s Duomo was built between 1215 and 1263 and designed in part by Gothic master Nicola Pisano. His son, Giovanni, drew up the plans for the lower half of the facade, begun in 1285. The facade’s upper half was added in the 14th century.
The 14th century was a time of great wealth and power for Siena, and plans were made to expand the cathedral into a great church that would dwarf even St. Peter’s in Rome. The already-large Duomo would form just the transept of this huge cathedral.
Expansion got underway in 1339 with construction on a new nave off the Duomo’s right transept. But in 1348, the Black Death swept through the city and killed 4/5 of Siena’s population. The giant cathedral was never completed, and the half-finished walls of the Duomo Nuovo (New Cathedral) survive as a monument to Siena’s ambition and one-time wealth.
In the 19th century, the cathedral was extensively restored, including the addition of golden mosaics on the facade.
Large in scale and ornately decorated inside and out, Siena’s cathedral is one of the finest examples of Italian Gothic architecture.
The west facade was begun in 1285 with Giovanni Pisano as the master architect. He completed the lower level by 1297, at which time he abruptly left Siena over creative differences with the Opera del Duomo. Camaino di Crescentino took over from 1299 until 1317, when the Opera ordered all work to focus on the east end of the cathedral. Attention finally returned to the facade in 1376, with a new design inspired by the newly built facade of Orvieto Cathedral.
Parts of the facade were restored and reorganized in 1866-69 by Giuseppe Partini and again after World War II. All the statues on the facade, many of them designed by Giovanni Pisano, were replaced with replicas in the 1960s; the originals are displayed in the Museo dell’Opera. Pisano’s statues depict Greek philosophers, Jewish prophets and pagan Sibyls, each accompanied by an inscription, as well as animals including lions and griffins.
Giovanni Pisano is also believed to have contributed the frieze over the central portal, which depicts the stories of the Virgin Mary and her parents Anne and Joachim. The columns between the portals are richly carved with foliage, putti and animals. The central bronze door, depicting the Glorification of the Virgin, was made in 1958 by Enrico Manfrini.
The golden mosaics in the upper gables were made by Venetian artists based on drawings of 1878 by the Sienese painters Luigi Mussini and Alessandro Franchi. They depict the Presentation of Mary at the Temple, the Coronation of the Virgin, and the Nativity. The large round window is surrounded by busts of 36 patriarchs and a statue of the Madonna and Child.
Taken on a visit to Tuscany in 2008

Artwork Comments

  • deanc
  • Fara
  • © Hany G. Jadaa © Prince John Photography
  • Fara
  • Poete100
  • Fara
  • MartinJohnson
  • Ana Belaj
  • Maria1606
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