ORCAGNA
(b. ca. 1308, Firenze, d. ca. 1368, Firenze)

The Strozzi Altarpiece

1354-57
Tempera on wood
Cappella Strozzi, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

The Strozzi Altarpiece incorporates iconography related to the Dominican order. It is a richly decorative painting, with tooled gold background, gold punchwork imitating embroidered fabric, and large areas of expensive lapis lasuli blue. The sheer opulence of the painting indicates its importance. At the centre of the altarpiece is a figure of God, seated rigidly and frontally in a radiant mandorla of cherubim, suspended in a light-filled heaven which defies specific spatial description. On his right he is flanked by a crowned Virgin in a Dominican habit who presents her protégé St Thomas Aquinas to him. St Thomas kneels before God in a typical donor pose. To God's left St Peter kneels to receive to keys that symbolize his office - and his power - as pope. Behind Peter is St john the Baptist, The saints in the outermost compartments of the altarpiece include St Michael the Archangel, St Catherine of Alexandria, St Lawrence and St Paul.