Eyes to behold stunning artworks in world-class museums.


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Saints are people who have been formally recognized by the Church as having had exceptional holiness of life. There are many artworks depicting saints in The Metropolitan Museum, from a variety of cultures and historical periods. These artworks provide insight into how different cultures and religions have represented saints over time.

Processional cross

European Sculpture and Decorative Arts / The Met

    This object is a repository for a relic believed to be a fragment of the True Cross.
    It is thought to have been made for a convent of the Poor Clares, probably in Florence.
    It is an extraordinary example of Florentine Renaissance metalwork, incorporating within its silver-gilt frame a series of twenty silver plaques with nielloed scenes depicting the Passion of Christ and various saints.

Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence

The Cloisters / The Met

    Contrary to iconographic convention, Saint Lawrence here appears in supplication, amid bands of fire, rather than stretched out on the grill.
    This representation reflects the writings of both saints Augustine and Ambrose, which relate that Lawrence conquered the fire without - shown here licking at his feet - with the three fires within:those inflamed by the ardor of faith, the love of Christ, and the true knowledge of God, which are represented here by the bands of fire at waist and shoulder level and by the column of fire above his head.
    The attribution of the panel to Canterbury is based largely on style; its precise location in the cathedral choir has not been determined.

Madonna and Child with Saints

Italian, Verona 1474–1555 Verona / The Met

    The painting is of the saints Catherine of Alexandria, Leonard, Augustine, and Apollonia.
    The painting was painted in about 1520 for the Augustinian church of San Leonardo nel Monte outside Verona.
    The painting was described at length by the sixteenth-century biographer Giorgio Vasari, who especially admired the landscape and enormous laurel tree.

Saint Dominic in Penitence

Italian, Castello 1576–1645 Florence / The Met

    Tarchiani transforms a troubling subject - the thirteenth-century founder of the Dominican order flagellating himself - into a serene, meditative composition.
    With the attention of a still-life painter, he isolates a series of captivating motifs, including the linearity of the altarpiece viewed in profile contrasted with the soft folds of Dominic's robes, which have been partially discarded.
    Although trained in the academic tradition of late-sixteenth-century Florentine art, Tarchiani made two prolonged visits to Rome, where he studied the work of Caravaggio and Orazio Gentileschi.

The Flagellation; (reverse) The Madonna of Mercy

Italian, Brescia 1484/87–1560 Brescia / The Met

    Romanino painted this expressive depiction of the flagellation of Christ as a processional banner for a confraternity, or lay religious group, in Brescia, a city not far from Milan.
    Contemporary German prints, which circulated widely in northern Italy, inspired its dramatically compressed composition and the vehemence of the brutish executioners.
    Caravaggio, the groundbreaking artist of the next generation, spent his formative years in the region and almost certainly knew and admired this painting.

Saint Philip Neri (1515–1595)

Italian, Florence 1616–1687 Florence / The Met

    In an inscription, the artist records that he began this posthumous portrait on May 26, Saint Philip Neri's feast day, and completed it eight days later for the church of San Firenze in Florence, adding, "I Carlo Dolci, painted the present image . . . [beginning] the first day of my thirtieth year 1645 [or 1646]."
    Since Neri, a great spiritual leader and founder of the Oratorians, had died fifty years previously, Dolci must have used a death mask to achieve the astonishing quality of physical presence.

Saint Roch

The Cloisters / The Met

    Saint Roch's celebrity derives from his reputation for curing victims of plague.
    His representation here is in keeping with his legend.
    The wealthy native of Montpellier wears clothing that is richly colored and patterned with gold, and also the broad-brimmed hat of a religious pilgrim en route to Rome.

Knob from a Crozier with the Entry into Jerusalem

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