A saintly scene rich in symbolism
Saint Dorothy’s basket of flowers includes roses, a reference to the story of her martyrdom. She was mocked on the way to her execution by an unbeliever who challenged her to send him roses and apples from heaven; miraculously a child appeared carrying both. Dressed in a fashionable white gown with an intricate lining, her pointed shoes peek out from beneath her velvet skirts.
Saint Peter in contrast is barefoot, his feet in symmetry with Saint Dorothy’s. In his right hand he juggles the keys to heaven and a book representing the gospels; the spectacles in his left hand are a clue to his religious studies. He has lost most of the hair on his head but has a wonderfully painted curly white beard.
It’s a beautifully harmonious composition. As well as mirroring each other’s feet, the figures also make similar hand gestures. Saint Peter’s right hand, clutching the keys and the book, is in the same position as Saint Dorothy’s right hand, which holds a single flower. And he holds his spectacles in his left hand in the same way that Saint Dorothy delicately clasps her woven flower basket.