This devotional image shows the saint contemplating God while tenderly holding the pincers, the instruments of her sufferings through which she achieved her sanctity. The palm branch is the attribute of martyrs. More on this painting
Saint Agatha of Sicily (231 AD – 251 AD) is a Christian saint and virgin martyr. Agatha was born at Catania or Palermo, Sicily, and she was martyred in approximately 251.
She is the patron saint of Catania, Molise, Malta, San Marino, and Zamarramala, a municipality of the Province of Segovia in Spain. She is also the patron saint of breast cancer patients, martyrs, wet nurses, bell-founders, bakers, fire, earthquakes, and eruptions of Mount Etna.
Although the martyrdom of Saint Agatha is authenticated, and her veneration as a saint had spread beyond her native place even in antiquity, there is no reliable information concerning the details of her death. According to Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea of ca. 1288, having dedicated her virginity to God,[ fifteen-year-old Agatha, from a rich and noble family, rejected the amorous advances of the low-born Roman prefect Quintianus, who then persecuted her for her Christian faith. He sent Agatha to Aphrodisia, the keeper of a brothel. The madam finding her intractable, Quintianus sent for her, argued, threatened, and finally had her put in prison. Amongst the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts with pincers. After further dramatic confrontations with Quintianus, represented in a sequence of dialogues in her passio that document her fortitude and steadfast devotion, Saint Agatha was then sentenced to be burnt at the stake, but an earthquake saved her from that fate; instead, she was sent to prison where St. Peter the Apostle appeared to her and healed her wounds. Saint Agatha died in prison, according to the Legenda Aurea in “the year of our Lord two hundred and fifty-three in the time of Decius, the emperor of Rome.” More on Saint Agatha of Sicily
Francesco Furini (c. 1600 (or 1603) – August 19, 1646) was an Italian Baroque painter of Florence, noted for his sensual sfumato style in paintings of both secular and religious subjects. He was born in Florence to an artistic family. Furini’s early training was by Matteo Rosselli. Traveling to Rome in 1619, he also would have been exposed to the influence of Caravaggio and his followers.
Furini’s work reflects the tension faced by the conservative, mannerist style of Florence when confronting then novel Baroque styles. He is a painter of biblical and mythological set-pieces with a strong use of the misty sfumato technique. In the 1630s his style paralleled that of Guido Reni.
Furini became a priest in 1633 for the parish of Sant’Ansano in Mugello.
Freedberg describes Furini’s style as filled with “morbid sensuality”. His frequent use of disrobed females is discordant with his excessive religious sentimentality, and his polished stylization and poses are at odds with his aim of expressing highly emotional states. His stylistic choices did not go unnoticed by more puritanical contemporary biographers like Baldinucci. Pignoni also mirrored this style in his works.
Furini traveled to Rome again in the year before his death in 1646. More on Francesco Furini
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