PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA
(b. 1416, Borgo San Sepolcro, d. 1492, Borgo San Sepolcro)

6. Torture of the Jew

1452-66
Fresco, 356 x 193 cm
San Francesco, Arezzo

At the end wall of the chapel, around the stain-glass window and below the prophets were placed the Burial of the Wood (on the left) and the Torture of the Jew (on the right). These two stories were painted by Piero's main assistant Giovanni da Piamonte, who used the cartoon by Piero.

Having achieved his victory, Constantine determined to find out more about the mysterious cross. His mother, Empress Helena, set out for Jerusalem to learn what she could. There she questioned all of the Jewish scholars, and when she sensed that information was being withheld from her she threatened to have them all burned. At that a man by the name of Judas, who knew where the cross was to be found, was sent to her. He would not reveal the secret, however, so Helena had him thrown down into a dry well. After six days without food he begged to be released. We find this scene in the middle register of the choir wall. Judas has only halfway emerged from the well. One man holds him by the hair while two others pull him out with the help of a winch set up behind the well, from which a rope has been tied around his body.