The churches of the medieval era chose to use many images that depicted scenes from the bible. The MaestÃ of Duccio, Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308, Tempera and gold on wood, is a great example. This altarpiece is made up of 43 panels all depicting a small scene or characters from the bible. The front boasts the virgin Mary with child along with 19 saints and 20 angels.
The choice to depict scenes from the bible helps to give an understanding not just for the illiterate but the literate also benefit from having a picture to go with words. The choice of placement id interesting because The MaestÃ was placed so the front and the back could be seen, the back has a connected theme of the life cycle of Christ and the virgin Mary.
The choice of medium was tempera and gold on wood, the colors are very vibrant and gold itself has had an important part in culture throughout history. Gold is often associated with wealth but has also been an important part of art in churches throughout the ages.
The way this piece helps the church function at all levels of society can be explained by a written account from a witness to the installation of the altarpiece. He wrote that nobody worked that day, The Clergy, the politicians, and all the people came to see the glorious painting. The bells were ringing in the square and the poor received many gifts of food or money. The church and this painting captivated a entire town with depictions from the bible and brought hope of everyone that the city would be blessed because of the wonderful image that Duccio had created.