MAIANO, Benedetto da
(b. 1442, Firenze, d. 1497, Firenze)

Tomb Altar of St Fina

Chapel of St Fina, Collegiata, San Gimignano

Benedetto da Maiano's tomb altar is located in a chapel erected to house the relics of St Fina. The chapel was build by the architect Giuliano da Maiano (1432-1490), the elder brother of Benedetto; it was completed in 1472. The same year Benedetto was commissioned by the city council of San Gimignano to create a tomb for the saint.

The creation of Benedetto has an unusual form: part tomb monument, part reliquary shrine, part altar. This reflects the unusual nature of San Gimignano's veneration of the Fina relics. Fina was worshiped as a local saint, but since she had not been canonized she could not be honoured with an altar of his own. Her bones could not be placed beneath the altar table for the same reason. Her head had been separated from the rest of her remains in the fourteenth century, and it was placed in the tabenacle-like opening of the retable - possibly in the shrine created in 1402. Her body lies in a sarcophagus elevated above the retable. The combination of a sarcophagus and a Madonna tondo makes one think of this as a tomb monument; however, the frieze atop the retable is more typical of an altar predella, which the work was in fact long thought to be.

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