Giovanni del Biondo (attr.), San Zenobius Altarpiece
- Giovanni del Biondo
- C. 1380
- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
- Specific location
- Interior, first pillar on the left from the entrance
- Original location
- Cathedral? Orsanmichele, chiavaioli altar?
- Tempera painting, carving, gilding
- Height: 240 cm; Width: 110 cm;
- Wood, tempera pigments, gold
Gothic altarpiece, depicting Zenobius, holy bishop of Florence: painted around 1380 and attributed to Giovanni del Biondo.
The altarpiece is in the form of an aedicule tabernacle, and consists of a central panel, a predella and a clypeus. The main panel depicts Saint Zenobius, seated in the bishop’s chair in robes of office, flanked by Humility and Charity, while crushing Pride and Cruelty underfoot, between the two deacons Eugene and Crescentius. Zenobius' cope is decorated with many figures: allegories, saints and on the chest the Crucifixion. The summit clypeus presents a Christ blessing, holding an open book with letters Alpha and Omega.
The predella shows two episodes from the life of the saint: the resurrection of the son of a French pilgrim and the flowering of the elm during the translation of his body. The Gothic frame in painted and gilded wood has an ogival arch and is decorated with coats of arms, pinnacles and twisted columns. The Medici coat of arms on the base is an addition, among modifications of 1842 by Antonio Marini.
The provenance and the patron of the altarpiece are unknown. It is known that in the 17th century it was venerated by the Choral Chaplaincy of Santa Maria and Saint Zenobius. In 1842, during the course of the purist renovations of the Cathedral by Gaetano Baccani, the panel was restored and modified to make it the complement of the one on the right pillar, by depicting the bishop of Florence Saint Antonino by Francesco Morandini.
The rich and complex iconography of the painting is a celebration of the Saint, first bishop of Florence, who lived between the 4th and 5th centuries, as written in a dedication of gilded capitals along the frame: the Holy prelate, “who made Florence flourish": O SANCTE PRESUL PER TE FLORENTIA FLORIT.