Saint Apollonia

oil and tempera painting of woman in red and blue holding pair of tongs, against gold background

Saint Apollonia
Oil and tempera with gold on poplar panel
15 1/4 x 11 1/7 in. (38.7 x 28.3 cm)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Samuel H. Kress Collection

Apollonia stands erect, as befits a pillar of the Christian faith. A virgin martyr, she suffered at the hands of persecutors who broke her teeth, one of which is clamped firmly in Apollonia’s tongs. This painting, along with Saint Leonard (?), Saint Monica, and The Crucifixion, adorned the gilded frame of the Sant’Agostino altarpiece. Light falls across Apollonia from the left, not the right as in the other paintings. This suggests that she was located on the side of the frame where she may have been illuminated by sunlight from a rear window.

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