Giovanni Bellini, Madonna and Child with Saints

First third, 17th century
Church of St Zacharias, Venice, Italy

On the far left St. Peter holds his keys and book. He is further identified by his short, square beard and baldness. The woman with the martyr's palm behind him could be St. Agatha, to whom Peter appeared when she was in prison.

The man on the right is St. Jerome, identified by his red garments. The woman saint behind him ought to be St. Mary Magdalene, with her oil jar and long, blond hair. But the palm branch in her left hand traditionally signifies a martyr, which Mary Magdalene was not.

The child is naked, as had been the practice for more than two centuries when this work was painted. The gold balls on the arms of the throne, if they are not purely decorative, may refer to the child's reign over the earth. Orbs of this sort are more commonly seen in the child's hands.

The "sculpted" face of a king on the back of the throne seems too human to be the Father. It might represent King David, ancestor of the child.

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More of The Madonna and Child
More of St. Peter
More of St. Mary Magdalene
More of St. Jerome
More of St. Agatha

Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.