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Four Scenes from the Early Life of Saint Zenobius

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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This painting was made as part of a group of four works that tell the story of the life of Florence’s patron saint, Zenobius; it is the first of the series. It shows four scenes of his early life as a Christian, from his rejection of marriage to his ordination as Bishop of Florence.

It can be read like a cartoon strip from left to right. In the first scene on the left Zenobius walks sadly away from his fiancée and crosses the road to be baptised under the loggia (open-sided gallery or room) of an elaborate building with columns decorated with gold. His mother is shown being baptised in the next scene. Finally, we find Zenobius kneeling before the pope who is about to make him bishop. He is accompanied by young men in white vestments – they might represent members of the religious group devoted to Zenobius, who may have ordered the pictures.

The National Gallery, London



Four Scenes from the Early Life of Saint Zenobius


about 1500


Tempera on wood


H 66.7 x W 149.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Mond Bequest, 1924

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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