Good reading on Sienese art & the cultural-political background - Sienese Painting, by Timothy Hyman. Very helpful to me. (I know I've mentioned this before.)
City-republic vs. politics of Empire, Aristocracy & Church. The comune of "the Nine". Art history from the Sienese vs. the standard Florentine perspective (Vasari).
Duccio's art was the last of the Byzantine & the first of the Italian. Sienese fusion of mystical remoteness and urban street vernacular.
I'd like this Siena to take shape as a metaphor for America (& for Providence, & for experience generally).
Byzantium : Mankind is the imago of God. Siena : art is the imago of humanity. The dialectic of these two positions, played out in the symbolic-psychological sphere of religious ideology (iconolatry, iconoclasm, idolatry)... still with us today. (ie. are the words of "sacred books" to be taken literally or symbolically? Or somewhere in between?)
Red-blue states. Imperial purple. On the nether side of Duccio's Maesta altarpiece, in the scenes of the Passion narrative, Christ's garments are always red & blue (except in the Transfiguration & post-Resurrection scenes, where they are gold).