(b. ca. 1386, Firenze, d. 1466, Firenze)
St Stephen and St Lawrence1428-35
Polychrome terracotta, 215 x 180 cm
Old Sacristy, San Lorenzo, Florence
Chronologically close together and perhaps the first works executed for the Sacristy are the two arched reliefs in polychrome terracotta above the doors, in which, especially between St Stephen and St Lawrence, the dramatic force of the disputation reaches a disturbing pitch. The pliability of the material, terracotta and stucco, was in itself suitable for creating a charged and uneasy atmosphere.
The relics of St Stephen and St Lawrence had been buried in the Roman church of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura. Since the early Middle Ages the two saints were frequently depicted next to each other. Stephen is identified by the attributes of his book and palm frond, and Lawrence by the grill on which, according to tradition, he was martyred during the reign of Emperor Valerian.