Zanobi Strozzi (FLORENCE,1412 - 1468) - inv. 4744
Zanobi Strozzi, Florentine aristocrat, was active both as a painter and as a book illuminator. Vasari remembers him as one of the first and most faithful followers of Fra Angelico and indeed, he is documented several times in Angelico’s workshop, in the convent of San Domenico in Fiesole, during the 1430s.
The Virgin is sitting on a gold-embroidered red cushion with two tassels. She is wearing a red dress and blue cloak with a green lining; on her head, there is a violet veil with a star. This attribute derives from stella maris, an ancient title for Mary, seen as a guiding star. In her right hand, she holds a white lily, symbol of purity, while her left rests on the shoulder of the Child seated on her lap. Two musician angels, absorbed and melancholy, are playing a viola and a portable organ. In the background, there is a golden hanging, in which the gold leaf is engraved to imitate the softness and texture of a textile.
The painting is in excellent condition and one of the best examples of the “paintings and panels” that Zanobi made “for Florence and the houses of its citizens”, as Giorgio Vasari wrote. The Florentine painter’s best characteristics are evident in this work: a taste for precious materials, like the cloth woven and embroidered in gold and the beautiful streaked marble of the base. His palette includes acid colours, like yellow and violet, as well as strident colour contrasts, as between the violet of the veil and the blue of the Virgin’s cloak.