Museums and Art

Altar of San Marco, Sandro Botticelli

Altar of San Marco, Sandro Botticelli

Altar of San Marco - Sandro Botticelli. C. 1480

The Guild of Florentine Jewelers, about 1480, commissioned Botticelli to paint an altar for his church of San Marco, dedicated to the patron saint of the guild of St. This saint, dressed in the vestments of a bishop, with a staff in his hands, stands on the right in a group of four saints; he looks directly at the audience, and his right hand is raised in a gesture of blessing. Opposite St. John the Evangelist with an energetic gesture points to the scene happening above his head, holding in his other hand a small notebook with blank pages in which he is ready to write down his prophecy about a woman crowned with stars, predicting the crowning of the Virgin Mary.

Behind them are two Church Fathers: St. Augustine, also in episcopal vestments, writing his book, and St. Jerome in the cardinal’s cassock, staring upward with an expression of amazement. Surrounded by cherubs and seraphim, as well as dancing angels who shower her with roses, the Virgin Mary is crowned by God the Father crowned with a three-tier papal miter. Golden Rays of Heaven - an indication of the workshop affiliation of the goldsmiths of the craftsmen, customers of Botticelli.

ST ELIGIUS. Eligius (c. 588-660 CE), the patron saint of blacksmiths and jewelers, studied at the mint in Limoges and became a skilled engraver. He founded a convent in Solignac and a convent in Paris. In 641, he became bishop of Noyon and Tournai. His attributes are the anvil or ticks with which he allegedly grabbed the devil by the nose when the evil one came to him in the studio under the guise of a young woman. A sculpture group of four Christian martyrs, Nanni di Banco, circa 1411, depicts Eligius as a bishop in the niche belonging to the blacksmiths of the external decor of the church of Orsanmichele in Florence. The relief under this sculpture retells the legend of how he sawed off the horse's legs so that it would be more convenient to shoe them. After finishing work, he miraculously returned the legs to the body of the horse.


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