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Giovanni Bilivert: 'Saint Zenobius revives a Dead Boy'

Saint Zenobius was a fifth-century nobleman who became bishop of Florence. He miraculously restored to life the son of a French noblewoman who left her boy in Zenobius’ care while she went on a pilgrimage to Rome. The miracle is said to have taken place in Borgo degli Albizzi, near the church of San Pier Maggiore (demolished in 1784) shown in the background. Zenobius is accompanied by his deacons Eugenius and Crescentius; the brocaded dalmatic of the deacon on the left is decorated with scenes of the Resurrection and the Betrayal of Christ.

Bilivert was born in Florence, the son of a Dutch goldsmith employed at the Medici court. The painting dates from the late 1610s and was most likely executed for the artist’s great friend Giuliano Girolami, for whom Bilivert also painted a life-size image of San Carlo Borromeo in prayer.

The Collection also contains two of a set of four pictures of the works of Saint Zenobius painted by Botticelli.


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