Antonio Viviani, "Il Sordo" (1560-1620)
The Virgin Appears to St. Donatus

Oil on canvas, 92.5 x 64.2 in. (235 x 163 cm.)
Albani Diocesan Museum, Urbino, Italy

Viviani painted this canvas for the Church of San Donato Extra Muros in Urbino, and the spire and dome in the background appear to be represent the Cathedral and Ducal Palace in that city. The title is provided by a label in the museum, but one wonders if the painting might be more appropriately titled "St. Donatus Prays for Urbino to the Virgin." The saint looks up imploringly to Mary, who in turn looks supplicatingly toward the highest Heaven while gesturing toward him.

St. Donatus of Arezzo was the second bishop of that city and died in 362. In the Roman Martyrology for August 7 he is remembered as a martyr who was executed under Julian the Apostate, but according to Butler (III, 275) "he seems certainly not to have died for the faith." In the image his status as bishop and martyr is signaled by the crozier and palm branch in his hands and the mitre and stole on the ground.

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