(active 1343-1377, Firenze)

The Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas (detail)

Cappellone degli Spagnoli, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

In the lower register of the fresco a uniform row of fourteen thrones extends like a line of choir stalls across the wall. The detail shows the right side thrones with female figures identified as the personifications of the liberal arts (from right to left: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Music, Astronomy, Geometry, and Arithmetic). The antique and biblical representatives of the liberal arts (Priscian, Cicero, Aristotle, Tubalcain, Ptolemy, Euclid, and Pythagoras) are at their feet. Priscian was a Latin grammarian who lived in the 6th century AD. Cicero was a Roman lawyer, orator and statesman, 1st century BC. Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, 4th century BC, who invented formal logic. Tubalcain was a metalworker, mentioned in Genesis, identified with music possibly through a misunderstanding by Isidore of Seville. Ptolemy was a Greek astronomer, 2nd century AD, whose system prevailed until Copernicus. Euclid was a Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC; his textbook was used for 2000 years. Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher and mathematician, 6th century BC.

In addition, the personifications of the seven planets are found in the tympana of the thrones.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.