TUSCAN SCHOOL OF THE 15TH CENTURY
Blessing Saint Zanobi with Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Lucia
tempera on panel, 42,5×28 cm
This small altarpiece features three saints against a gilt background. While two of them are easily recognized – as Saint Francis, with a Franciscan habit, cross, book and stigmata, and Saint Lucia, who holds a palm and the customary dish reminding of her cruel martyrdom – the figure in episcopal costume in the centre, who holds a book, appears to be identifiable as Saint Zanobi, a Florentine bishop who lived in the 14th century. The cope is closed on the breast by a medallion that is no longer legible, but which might originally have been decorated by a red lily, as that in the mosaic by Monte di Giovanni found at the Museo dell’Opera or Museum of the Works of the Cathedral of Florence.
This saint was principally worshipped in the city where he lived and where he was subject of particular devotion, as witnessed by numerous works of art, and his presence might perhaps settle the old question as to whether the school of origin of the work is to be found in Florence or in Siena, a matter which has already been subject of debate in the past. In fact, while the Saint Francis of this archaistic painting brings to mind the characteristic physiognomies of Fifteenth-century Siena, the saint in the centre seems, on the contrary, to be inspired by the works of Filippo Lippi.