Virgin and Child with Sts Mary Magdalene, James Major, Stephen, and a Bishop Saint
Tempera, silver, and tooled gold on panels, 72 x 42 cm
Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Mary Magdalene holds a jar that contained the perfume she used to bathe Christ's feet. James the Great holds a staff and scallop shell like those carried by pilgrims to his burial site in Spain. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, holds a palm frond, the symbol of martyrdom. Several stones rest on his head, a reminder that he was executed by stoning. The last saint on the right bears no clear attribute other than a bishop's robes. In the late 1800s, when the altarpiece received a new frame, the bishop was identified as Nicholas of Bari, but he is more likely Zenobius, an early bishop of Florence.