The Life of Christ in the Back Panel of the Maesta

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

The front of the Maesta, also known as the Siena Altarpiece, depicts the Virgin Mary and Christ surrounded by angels and saints.  The back of the altarpiece depicts the narrative of Christ's ministry and passion.  With its small figures and great amount of detail, the back was more suitable for the viewing of monks and clerics who could see the back of the altarpiece up close.

The back of the central panel of the Maesta

The Entry into Jerusalem

Details of The Entry into Jerusalem

The Washing of the Feet

The Last Supper

Detail of The Last Supper

Christ Taking Leave of the Apostles

In The Pact of Judas, the five ribs of the vault behind Judas point toward him accusingly as he accepts the silver:

The Pact of Judas

The Agony in the Garden

Details of The Agony in the Garden

Christ Taken Prisoner

Details of Christ Taken Prisoner

Christ Before Annas and Peter Denying Jesus

 Material for this post is drawn from "The Majesty of Duccio and Giotto," one of the lectures in The World's Greatest Paintings (public library) by William Gross, and all of the photos are drawn from the Web Gallery of Art.