(b. 1445, Firenze, d. 1510, Firenze)

Madonna and Child with Six Saints (Sant'Ambrogio Altarpiece)

c. 1470
Tempera on panel, 170 x 194 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Masterwork of the young Botticelli, this painting takes name from the Florentine convent of Sant'Ambrogio, where it was placed in 1808 before the transfer to Accademia and Uffizi galleries. This panel is considered to be the first monumental piece commissioned from Botticelli, as well as one of his first altarpieces.

This type of altar painting is called a Sacra Conversazione, and it shows the enthroned Madonna surrounded by saints. To the left are Mary Magdalene with the ointment jar and St John the Baptist wearing furs, and to the right are St Francis of Assisi in the Franciscans' habit and Catherine of Alexandria with her wheel. The two kneeling saints, Cosmas and Damian, were patron saints of both the Medicis and doctors and pharmacists.