Stories from the Life of St. Eligius

Tempera on panel
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

These images are in the predella of Botticelli's Coronation of the Virgin, which he painted for the church of San Marco in Florence. I am dating them as contemporary with the main altarpiece, but considering their artistic quality, it seems unlikely that these three panels were also his.

The first (leftmost) panel pictures Salome presenting the head of John the Baptist.

The second panel seems to represent the translation of the saint a year after his death. According to the Golden Legend, the body was found to be incorrupt, and the saint's beard and hair were just as they had been, even though he had been shaved for the initial burial.

In the center of the third panel is the devil who presented himself to Eligius in the form of a beautiful woman. The saint has used one of the tools in his shop to pinch the devil's nose. This legend is mentioned in Duchet-Suchaux (132-33) and is pictured in other works, but I have not been able to find a medieval text that relates it. Similarly elusive, and even more well represented in the art, is the text for the story shown left and right of the devil-woman. To save himself time and trouble, Eligius took the foreleg off a horse, attached a shoe to it, and put it back on the animal.

View the altarpiece.
Read more about St. Eligius and St. John the Baptist.

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