The Intercession of Christ and the Virgin
Attributed to Lorenzo Monaco
Christ and the Virgin are shown pleading with God the Father for mercy on behalf of eight small figures, perhaps members of a prominent Florentine family. In the tradition of hieratic scale, the divine figures are portrayed many times larger than the mortals, who kneel in adoration and prayer. Pointing to the wound in his side, Christ says, “My Father, let those be saved for whom you wished me to suffer the Passion.” The Virgin, holding one of her breasts, pleads, “Dearest son, because of the milk that I gave you, have mercy on them.” The axis of God the Father, the dove of the Holy Spirit, and the kneeling Christ also represents the Trinity. The drama of the bold devotional image, with a geometric composition typical of Florentine painting of the later fourteenth century, was heightened by its original placement inside the entrance of the cathedral, where it faced the length of the vast interior.