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Allori was born and trained in Florence. This altarpiece was commissioned by Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici as a gift for the new villa of Felice Peretti, Cardinal Montalto, elected Pope Sixtus V in 1585. The Latin inscription on the step beneath the Virgin's bed may be translated: 'Painted by Alessandro Allori, citizen of Florence, pupil of Agnolo Bronzino 1583'. The Christ Child raises his arm in blessing, attended by two angels bearing honey and butter, an allusion to the prophecy of Isaiah. At his feet, kneeling as if before an altar, are Saint Francis and Saint Lucy. Both had a special significance for Cardinal Montalto, a member of the Franciscan order, born on Saint Lucy's feast day, December 13. The latter holds a bowl with her dowry money which she gave to the poor and a yoke from the oxen meant to drag her to execution.
National Museum Wales, National Museum Cardiff
Virgin and Child with Saints Francis and Lucy
oil on canvas
H 256.5 x W 167.6 cm
NMW A 3