(b. 1503, Firenze, d. 1572, Firenze)

Miracle of the Brazen Serpent

c. 1542
Fresco, 300 x 380 cm
Cappella di Eleonora, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

The Israelites, discontented with life in the desert, spoke out against God and Moses. They were punished with a plague of poisonous snakes which only increased their hardships. Many died of snakebite. When the people repented, Moses sought God's advice how they should be rid of the snakes. He was told to make an image of one and set it on a pole. Whoever was bitten would be cured when he looked upon the image. Moses accordingly made a serpent of brass on a tau-shaped (T) pole, which proved to have a miraculous curative effect.

In the Miracle of the Brazen Serpent mothers are caring for their children, and women are helping one another. The biblical episode has a Medici dimension since the family name promises healing power (medici is Italian for "doctors").