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Francesco di Giorgio, Saint Dorothy and the Infant Christ

Key facts
Full title Saint Dorothy and the Infant Christ
Artist Francesco di Giorgio
Artist dates 1439 - 1501
Date made about 1460
Medium and support Tempera and gold on wood
Dimensions 33.3 × 20.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1899
Inventory number NG1682
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Saint Dorothy and the Infant Christ
Francesco di Giorgio

This little panel, which is also decorated on the reverse, shows Saint Dorothy with Jesus, a toddler, carrying a basket of roses. She caries a stem of roses in bloom and bud and gazes tenderly at the boy. Saint Dorothy was martyred for her faith in the city of Caesarea (in modern-day Turkey), in the fourth century.

According to legend she was mocked by a Roman scribe, named Theophilus, for claiming that in ‘Christ’s garden’ –heaven, in other words – roses always bloomed and apples were always in fruit. Cruelly, moments before her decapitation, he asked if she might then bring him some too. At these words Christ appeared as a small child, carrying a basket of fruit and flowers which he presented to the lawyer. Theophilus in turn converted to Christianity and was also eventually martyred.

The picture was made for private contemplation and its sweetness, soft pinks and lilacs, reflects not only the nature of the story but the fashion in Sienese painting for graceful, decorative images.

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