Duccio’s Pillow


Duccio’s Pillow

Duccio paints a pillow
for the Madonna to sit uponna, shaped
like a hot dog,
its countours long and thin
as the old-man babe who’s perched within
his mother’s dark robe,

itself a distended globe.
All is flattened
in the foreshadowing, incipient chiaroscuro
of what’s to come, except
for that brown orange pillow
that billows just a bit where
the Virgin doesn’t sit.

We all need salt softness


A draftish poem for my own prompt of Poetics Italian-STyle for dVerse Poets Pub.  Duccio was an early Renaissance Italian painter, painting in the late thirteenth, early fourteenth century in Sienna.  From my high school foray into art history,  I always thought of him as the painter who made  hot dog pillows that the Madonna sits or lays down upon in the various scenes of her depicted life.  I’m not sure that this is a certified art historical fact as I did not actually find any mention of it in rooting around for this poem, though certainly the pillow above would qualify.  

Below is another Duccio, and below that, my own version of an early Renaissance painting.  (Guess which is which.)  (Note, “chiaroscuro” is a technique of painting using light and shadow to sculpt images–the technique was truly developed a little later than Duccio.) 

Note, that I have edited since first posting.



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29 Comments on “Duccio’s Pillow”

  1. Manicddaily Says:

    I am having computer issues so cannot return comments right away today. Your visit and thoughts are much appreciated. k.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    Laughin at the Madonna uponna–and the hot dog effect. Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what the man is most known for, and is it just me, or does baby Jesus look like a middle-aged balding man in that top pic? Lighthearted and descriptive, lots of fun, and yet there’s still a tinge of something a bit darker and deeper in the chiaroscuro. Thanks for the great prompt, k.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks–sorry you did not like yours. I had something about the little old man baby but am trying to keep things shorter and changed the whole flow – maybe not for best–agh–who knows? This whole business of revising/posting difficult. k.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks– got back on line and figured out a way to work in the old-man notion that I had taken out before but which you rightfully noted is such an important part of these paintings. So stuck in just a description instead of the whole long line I had before. Thanks much. k.

  3. brian miller Says:

    ha. nice i like your elephant on wings…those pictures kinda creep me out a bit…maybe its the setting i first saw them in that adds that…and you disarm them a bit with me think of the madonna sitting on a hot dog…ha…

  4. claudia Says:

    oh you take the heaviness away off that pics a bit with the hot dog shaped pillow…thanks for a much needed smile this afternoon…smiles – and thanks for an awesome prompt..

  5. beckykilsby Says:

    Oh I like a bit of irreverent humour and agree with hedge.. it’s not all light in your piece. Lots to think about, not least the passing of time, and perspective 🙂

  6. Your painting is very nice. That elephant is so sweet flying in there… and the sitting uppona made me smile 🙂

  7. whimsygizmo Says:

    Oh, MY.
    The combination of this fun line:
    “Duccio paints a pillow
    for the Madonna to sit uponna”

    And this profound lingering:
    “We all need salt softness


  8. howanxious Says:

    That salt softness… and the hotdog… a wondrous write. We see so many things, otherwise ignored artistically. I certainly enjoyed reading this piece.

  9. Mary Says:

    Ah yes, I agree about the salt softness we all need. Beautiful paintings (ha, I liked the elephant addition) and an awesome poem written for your awesome prompt. Thank you.

  10. Miriam E. Says:

    ha, wonderful wordplay here… now i want to sit uponna Madonna on a hot dog shaped pillow. thanks for the smiles and great prompt, Karin!

  11. janehewey Says:

    your poetry would have been a wonderful way for me to learn art history! with humor and perspective. yours is charming and witty as always.

  12. Grace Says:

    Interesting notes K ~ I was admiring the pictures, including your elephant one but had to smile at the hot dog shaped pillows ~ Thanks for the prompt and wishing you happy week ahead ~

  13. Bryan Ens Says:

    love the “hotdog shaped pillow” bit. 🙂

  14. WOW!!!!! Your painting would look EXACTLY like it was done by one of the old masters were it not for the elephant. I am wildly impressed!!!!! Love the whole idea of the hot dog pillow, which would be shockingly irreverent, were it positioned front to back rather than side to side…….I know, I cant help it, my mind just Goes There.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. Sherry–it is an old master painting, but for the elephant! I cannot remember who did the painting–Botticelli maybe? I took the picture at the Met Museum in New York. That is very funny re the pillow! Thanks. k.

  15. (I can HEAR all the nuns of yesteryear spinning in their graves.)

  16. Rowan Taw Says:

    I loved your take on this prompt – such an amusing art commentary!

  17. Gabriella Says:

    Your little elephant made me smile. I like the idea that we all need “salt softness”. Now that you have mentioned it, I wonder how many Madonna paintings have a pillow.

  18. Susan Chast Says:

    I had never noticed the pillow. Good teacher you had, putting this unforgettable notion in your head. Of course, a model sitting for hours would have a pillow or two (before Picasso). Salt, yes. Softness, yes. Salt Softness? mmm. For the flavor in the pallette, for the art that keeps us human and communicating with each other. Brava!

  19. ds Says:

    Elephants have wings!!! I knew it. Of course the Madonna needs a pillow to “sit uponna”. So clever. Hot dogs in the Renaissance (was Duccio a “hot dogger”? I’d not heard of him before). Thank you for the art history lesson, I appreciate it. The pillow picture seems almost like a collage, part painted and part photograph. Very interesting. Thank you.
    (sorry i couldn’t come up with anything italian for your prompt)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks–that’s okay. It was a bit of an odd prompt! I like to be timely and couldn’t quite go with discovery for Columbus. I’m glad you enjoyed the pics. k.

  20. Pillow like a hot dog! 🙂 I did not know about Duccio…thanks for the introduction.

  21. shanyns Says:

    Fun, profound and so nicely done!

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