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Color dialogue at the Duomo

Published Jan 03, 2023
Updated Jan 03, 2023

📍 🇮🇹 Color dialogue at the Duomo

The so-called crypt of the Duomo of Siena, discovered in the late 1990s, is one of the most magical places that the Tuscan city preserves. 

The space includes astonishing and well preserved Duecento paintings illustrating episodes from the Old and New Testament, together with devotional figures. 

The scenes were carried out by using different techniques: fresco, tempera, and lime painting. 

In doing these cycles, the painters used various pigments, which for the vast majority were very common in Duecento painters’ palette. 

However, analysis revealed the use of two unusual pigments. Crocoite, a vibrant yellow, and chrysocolla, a blueish mineral. 

In particular, chrysocolla was a very rare pigment in medieval European paintings. On the contrary, it was quite common in India, Egypt, and China. 

Did you know that in terms of technique, medieval works of art were somehow dialoguing even when located in such distant places? 


Mugnaini, Sonia, Alessandro Bagnoli, P. Bensi, F. Droghini, A. Scala, and G. Guasparri. “Thirteenth century wall paintings Under the Siena Cathedral (Italy). Mineralogical and Petrographic Study of Materials, Painting Techniques and State of Conservation.” Journal of Cultural Heritage, no. 7 (2007): 171-185.

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12th-14th century