(b. 1449, Firenze, d. 1494, Firenze)

Announcement of Death to St Fina (detail)

Collegiata, San Gimignano

Next to the shining bowl is an almost empty decanter, covered by an inverted glass to protect the valuable wine. As the artist repeated both vessels in his later frescoes of the Last Supper, it is possible that they a reference to the sacrament of Holy Communion. The character of the objects, so like a still life, is an approximation to Flemish paintings, though Ghirlandaio has not yet achieved a Flemish materiality in his work.

On the far right, two pomegranates are lying on a box; they may be references to the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. Saint Fina did not attempt to gain the biblical forbidden fruits and will therefore be made a saint. Is it possible that the large split on one of the fruits is an allusion to the bodily decay of the saint, which the artist did not dare depict in all its gruesomeness?

On a framed panel on the rear wall are the Latin words that St Gregory spoke to Fina: "Be prepared my daughter, for on my feast day you will be taken up into our community and live there forever with your bridegroom." A window in the rear wall allows air and light to enter the bare room. A picture within a picture, the window appears very much like a landscape painting. The few domestic objects on the bench at the back give the room a home-like quality.

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