Saints in Art: 02 – The Evangelists

The Evangelists were very frequently represented in ancient art by symbols rather than in human form. Their earliest symbols, the four scrolls or books, emblematic of the Gospels, or the four rivers of Salvation flowing from Paradise, are seen in the Catacombs and on the walls of the oldest existing churches, or on relics hoary with age, as the earliest Christian sarcophagi and tombs.

In the fifth century the “Four Beasts,” which had already been used as emblems of the Four Archangels and the Four Great Prophets, were adopted as symbols of the Evangelists; and two centuries later these curious creatures were universally employed as symbolic of these four saints. At first they were simply emblems of the Evangelists, but after Saint Jerome wrote of the Vision of Ezekiel, each of these beasts was assigned to a particular saint. To Saint Matthew was given the Cherub or winged human face; to Saint Mark the Lion; to Saint Luke the Ox, and to Saint John the Eagle.

The reasons for this assignment are usually explained by saying that the more human symbol is appropriate to the Evangelist who traces the human ancestry of Christ; the Lion to him whose gospel of Jesus Christ begins with” the voice of one crying in the wilderness;” the Ox to him who writes especially of the priesthood and of sacrifice, of which the ox is symbolical; and the Eagle to him whose inspiration soared to the loftiest heights, and enabled him to reach the paramount human perception of the dual nature of Jesus Christ.

These symbols and that called the Tetramorph – a mysterious winged figure uniting the four symbols – are frequently seen in works of art. There are also several variations of them, as, for example, figures of men with the heads of the Beasts, or the Beasts holding books or scrolls, all of which are representations of the Evangelists.

Such symbolic pictures were perfectly intelligible to the early Christians, and were sacred in their eyes. As late as the sixteenth century the Evangelists were expressed by these emblems in both pictures and statues, an example still existing in the symbolic bronzes in the choir of the Church of Saint Antonio, at Padua, which are very unusual and interesting.

These symbols were not, however, universally used to personate the Evangelists, even in – the early centuries, since in the’ mosaics and manuscripts of the sixth century the Evangelists are depicted as venerable men, with their symbols near them. Neither Michael Angelo, Raphael, nor Leonardo da Vinci represented the Four Evangelists in their special office. Raphael introduced Saint John in the splendid group of Apostles, Prophets, and Saints in La Disputa, where he is placed between Adam and King David; and in his famous picture of the Vision of Ezekiel, in the Pitti Gallery in Florence, the Saviour is borne aloft by the Four Beasts; in the Saint Cecilia, too, in the Bologna Gallery, he also represented the Beloved Disciple, but the writers of the Gospels, as a group, he did not paint.

Likewise Leonardo, in his well-known Last Supper, in Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, represented them as disciples, but not as Evangelists; and in the same manner they appear as apostles, in the frescoes of Michael Angelo, in the Sistine Chapel.

From the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries the figures of the Evangelists appeared in all elaborate schemes of theological decoration. Their usual position was under the domes of churches or chapels, where they were placed after the angels and prophets who surrounded the central figure of the Saviour. Domes thus decorated by Cimabue in Assisi, by Giotto in Ravenna, by Fra Angelico in the Vatican, by Perugino in Perugia, and by Correggio in Parma, are noteworthy examples of these frescoes, while that by Domenichino, in Saint Andrea della Valle in Rome, is esteemed as his masterpiece; here angels are represented as sporting around the lion, and toying with his mane; others play with the palette and pencils of Saint Luke, and are extremely attractive as pictures, though not ideal as angels.

Allegorical figures of women are grouped about the Evangelists, superb, in pose and bearing; one, nude above the waist, raises her arms to heaven; another, with a helmet, is the personification of haughty pride. There is an element of paganism in this famous work; powerful and picturesque, one does not forget it, although it scarcely accords with the Christian conception of the Evangelists. The figure of Saint John, however, is of quite a different type from the others; it is beautiful in expression and in colour.

These frescoes were severely criticised during Domenichino’s life, and it is related that he visited them some time after their completion, and, after studying them, exclaimed, “It does not appear so bad to me,” and many who now see them, two and a half centuries after his death, agree with his estimate of them.

In the later pictures of the Evangelists, when each one is simply a man – with his name written near him – holding a book, his own exegesis of the Christian doctrine, they lose something of the ideal element imparted to them by the symbols which served to dignify them by an association with the prophecies of the Old Testament, as well as to distinguish them from the other apostles.

For example, Saint Matthew ranks as the seventh or eighth among the apostles, while as an Evangelist he is first, having written his Gospel earlier than the others. He was known as Levi before his calling by Jesus, and was a tax-gatherer. The Scripture account of him is slight; it simply relates that the Master called him as he sat at the receipt of customs; that he at once obeyed the call, and later made a feast at his house, to which Jesus and his disciples went, as well as many publicans and sinners; for this cause the Pharisees questioned the authority of the Master, to which Christ replied, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

The legends connected with Saint Matthew are scanty, and even the manner of his death is unknown. When represented as an apostle, his symbol is a purse or money-bag, referring to his occupation as a tax-gatherer.

The principal event in his life which’ has appealed to artists is his calling, and this has been frequently represented. In the Academy of Florence is a picture of this scene by Jacopo Chimenti, called Empolio This artist was an imitator of Andrea del Sarto. In the foreground of the picture are Christ and Matthew; the former, in full, graceful drapery, with a luminous halo, turns his gentle face towards Matthew, and extends his right hand, as if saying, “Follow me.” Matthew, with his hands clasped on his breast, and his head inclined toward Jesus, has an expression of reverential love, and, apparently, waits but for the command. In the background are six men, two of whom – an old and a young man – watch the Saviour and his new disciple with intense interest, from a desk raised above the heads of the others. The expression on all the faces is excellent; the grouping and the use of light and shade remind one of the excellent master whom Chimenti aspired to imitate.

The same subject, by Pordenone, is in the Dresden Gallery, and the Mendicante of Bologna commissioned Ludovico Caracci to represent this scene, which he did in a large and effective picture.

A number of scenes from the life of Saint Matthew may be seen in churches and galleries. In the museum at Brussels an excellent picture by F. Pourbus, the younger, is called Saint Matthew and an Angel, and the same subject by Caravaggio is in the Berlin Museum; it is supposed to represent the dictation of Saint Matthew’s Gospel by the heavenly messenger.

In the Museum of Madrid is the Calling of Saint Matthew by Juan de Pareja, the colour-grinder of Velasquez, who became an artist secretly. The Saint Matthew is his most important work.

But a picture of world-wide fame connected with the life of Saint Matthew, is that by Veronese, in the Academy of Venice, – where it fills one wall of the room in which it hangs, – representing the Supper at the House of Levi. It is one of a number of magnificent banquet scenes by this great artist, and while intended to emphasise the luxury which Levi left to become Matthew, it more fitly depicts the splendour of Venice at the height of her glory.

One wonders that such a representation should have been considered suitable to the decoration of a convent, but it was painted for that of Saint John and Saint Paul at Venice. Although claiming to reproduce a Scriptural scene, it is a most worldly feast, such as Veronese loved to paint. His tables in these banquet pictures are loaded with vases and other objects in crystal and in precious metals, and surrounded by sensuous men and women in all the gorgeousness of silks, satins, and velvets of richest dyes, ornamented with rare laces, exquisite embroideries and priceless jewels. The architecture of his banquet-halls is grand, with their marble porticoes through which comes such a light as imparts a poetic vitality to the whole scene.

Well did Taine say that if Titian is sovereign of the Venetian school of painting, Veronese is its regent; “what he loves is expanded beauty, the flower in full bloom, but intact, just when its rosy petals unfold themselves while none of them are, as yet, withered.”

Imposing as this Feast of Levi is, it is not one of the best of this master’s works.

Although Saint Mark is the second Evangelist, he was not an apostle, nor even a Christian until after the Death and Ascension of Our Lord, when he was converted by Saint Peter, whom he attended to Rome. In that city Saint Mark’s Gospel was written for the use of the converts; some authorities teach that this was dictated by Saint Peter.

Saint Mark founded the church at Alexandria, and by his miracles in that city so infuriated the people, who believed him to be a magician, that they bound him and dragged him to death. His Christian followers placed his remains in a tomb which was greatly venerated. Here his body rested from A. D. 68 until about 815, when his relics were stolen by some Venetian merchants and carried to their city, where he has since been honoured as its patron saint. The magnificent Basilica of Saint Mark was built above his second tomb, and the legends connected with him have been fully illustrated, especially by Venetian artists.

In the devotional pictures of Saint Mark the winged lion is seen, almost without exception; it is by the wings that the lion of Saint Mark is distinguished from that of Saint Jerome, and few examples are known in which the wings are omitted from the symbol of the Evangelist. His dress is usually that of a Greek bishop. The mosaic above the entrance to his Basilica, designed by Titian, and executed by Zuccati, is a grand example of these devotional subjects. It presents the saint in pontifical robes, with no mitre, a gray beard and hair of the same colour; one hand is raised in benediction, and the Gospel is held in the other.

Perhaps the most famous devotional picture of Saint Mark is that by Fra Bartolommeo. It was painted for his own convent of San Marco, in Florence, and is now in the Pitti Gallery. It is a colossal work, and is often compared with the Prophets in the Sistine Chapel by Michael Angelo; here the Evangelist is represented in the prime of life; he holds the Gospel and a pen, the lion being omitted; he is grave and grand rather than spirited. I fail to be impressed by this work as many good judges of it are, probably because I am not satisfied with a picture of a man in a niche, on a flat surface, as in this case. In sculpture the effect of this arrangement is far different, but in a picture it is not agreeable to me. However, I am here in a very small minority, as this Saint Mark is one of the noted pictures in a gallery so rich in great works as is the Pitti. For this picture Ferdinand II., almost two centuries ago, paid a sum equal to nearly fifteen thousand dollars in our money.

The legendary pictures of Saint Mark are very numerous, and the votive pictures, in which he is the principal personage, .while the others are portraits of the donor with his family or friends, are most interesting. A beautiful example of these by Tintoretto is in the Berlin Gallery. Saint Mark is enthroned with his Gospel open on his knees, while three of the Procuratori di San Marco, those who had the care of the Basilica and its treasury, in their rich crimson robes, kneel before him, and reverently listen to his instructions. A number of votive pictures represent Saint Mark as presenting a Doge, or some other prominent Venetian, to the Madonna.

Another class of votive pictures illustrates the legend that Saint Mark was simply the amanuensis of Saint Peter. A very beautiful example by Fra. Angelico is in the Academy of Florence, in which Saint Peter is preaching to the Romans from a pulpit, while Saint Mark is seated and reverently writes down the sermon in a book. Another fine picture of the same scene by Bonvicino is in the Brera, at Milan.

Historical pictures of Saint Mark are numerous, and are, as a rule, the works of Venetian masters. Gentile Bellini, who had been in the East, painted a picture of Saint Mark preaching at Alexandria, now in the Brera. The scenery and costumes are Oriental certainly, but they are Turkish. Nothing Egyptian appears, either in the crowd of men and women which surrounds the platform on which the preacher stands, or in the background, in which a so-called church is essentially a mosque. The fact is that Bellini “had been in Constantinople, but never in Egypt. It is surprising that this work should have been praised in Venice, where the incongruities of the composition must have been detected, since many Venetians had visited both Alexandria and Constantinople for commercial purposes.

The following legend is the subject of two famous pictures in the Academy of Venice, which cannot be understood without a knowledge of what they illustrate.

On the 25th of February, 1340, there was a great storm at Venice. The water had been rising during three days, and had reached a height of three cubits more than had ever been known before. An old fishernlan had with great difficulty reached the Riva di San Marco, and determined to stay there until the storm ceased. But a man came to him and insisted that he should row to San Giorgio Maggiore. With difficulty the fisherman was persuaded to set out, and having reached San Giorgio the stranger landed, and ordered the boatman to await his return. When he came back to the boat he brought a young man with him, and commanded the fisherman to row to San Niccolo di Lido. The boatman doubted his ability to do this, but was assured that strength would be given him. Reaching the Lido, the two men landed and soon returned to the boat with a third. The fisherman was then told to row out beyond the two castles, and when at last they came to the sea they saw a barque filled with demons who were on their way to submerge the city.

The three strangers made the sign of the cross, and bade the demons depart. Instantly the barque vanished and the sea was calm. Then the fisherman was ordered to land each man at the place from which he had come, and when this was done, he demanded payment for his services of the last to land. The stranger replied, II Thou art right; go to the Doge and the Procuratori of Saint Mark; tell them what thou hast seen. I am Saint Mark, the protector of the city; the others were the brave Saint George and the holy bishop, Saint Nicholas. Tell them that the tempest was caused by a schoolmaster of San Felice, who sold his soul to Satan and then hanged himself.” The fisherman replied that no one would believe his tale. Then Saint Mark gave the man a ring, saying, “Show them this, and tell them that they will not find it in the sanctuary,” and he disappeared. The next morning the fisherman did as he was told, and the ring could not be found in the treasury of Saint Mark. The fisherman was paid, and a life pension was assigned him. The ring was replaced by the Procuratori, a grand procession was ordained, and with great solemnity all Venice gave thanks to God and the three saints for the preservation of the beautiful city.

In the beautiful and famous picture in which Giorgione represented the storm, a ship manned by demons is seen, and they are evidently terrified. Some throw themselves into the sea; some cling to the flaming masts which cast a lurid glare over the whole scene; others hold fast to the rigging in sheer desperation. Two barques are in the foreground, that in which are the three saints, and a second manned by four glowing red demons. Allover the sea are monsters ridden by still other demons, and in the distance the towers of Venice appear. Giorgione’s poetic conception of the subject and his style of painting combine admirably in this work. His glowing colour and vigorous handling are here tempered by strong poetic feeling.

Paris Bordone chose a very different scene from the legend for his great work, which is considered his best large picture. He introduces to us a magnificent hall in which, on a dais, reached by a flight of steps, the Doge is seated in council. Hither comes the fisherman with the ring, which he holds out toward the Doge while ascending the steps. In spite of the gorgeous colour, the numerous figures, and the magnificent architecture of this picture, there is a certain simplicity and an air of truth about it, and its execution is more tenqer than was the customary manner of the famous Venetian painters.

Tintoretto illustrated still another legend of Saint Mark, and his picture, also in the Academy, is world famous. A Christian slave, who persisted in worshipping at the shrine of Saint Mark, is about to be tortured, when the saint descends from the sky, confounds the torturers, and destroys their implements. Of this picture Taine says: “No painting, in my judgment, surpasses, or perhaps equals, the Saint Mark; at all events, no painting has made an equal impression on my mind. The saint descends from the uppermost sky head foremost, precipitated, suspended in the air Noone, save Rubens, has so caught the instantaneousness of motion, the fury of flight; …we are borne along with, and follow, him to the ground, as yet unreached. Here, the naked slave, thrown upon his back, …glows with the luminousness of a Correggio. His superb, virile, muscular body palpitates; …the axes of iron and wood have been shattered to pieces, without having touched his flesh, and all are gazing at them. The turbaned executioner with upraised hands shows the judge the broken handle with an air of amazement. …The judge, in a red Venetian pourpoint, springs half-way off his seat and from his marble steps. The assistants around stretch themselves out and crowd up, some in sixteenth century armour, others in cuirasses of Roman leather, others in barbaric simarres and turbans, others in Venetian caps and dalmatics, some with legs and arms naked, and one wholly so, except a mantle over his thighs and a handkerchief on his head, with splendid contrasts of light and dark, with a variety, a brilliancy, an indescribable seductiveness of light reflected in the polished depths of the armour, diffused over lustrous figurings of silks, imprisoned in the warm shadows of the flesh, and enlivened by the carnations, the greens, and the rayed yellows of the opulent materials. Not a figure is there that does not act, and act allover; not a fold of drapery, not a tone of the body, is there that does not add to the universal dash and brilliancy. …There is no example of such luxuriousness and success of invention. …I believe that, before having seen this work, one can have no idea of the human imagination,” and so on, page after page, Taine exalts the genius of Tintoretto, who thus glorified Saint Mark.

It is certainly a fortunate circumstance for the world that the bones of Saint Mark were brought to Venice. In what other city would such a Basilica have been raised above them, and in what other school of art could this Evangelist have been thus honoured?

Saint Luke, like Saint Mark, was not called by Christ, but was a disciple of Saint Paul. with whom he journeyed to Rome, where he remained during the life of the great apostle, serving him with zeal and devotion.

There is some reason for believing that Luke had practised the healing art, since Saint Paul called him “the beloved physician”. The claim that he was an artist, however, rests on no early tradition, but on a later Greek legend, which can only be traced to the tenth century. Nevertheless, Saint Luke is the chosen patron of painters, and is frequently represented in the act of painting the portrait of the Virgin Mary.

The most famous picture of this subject is in the Academy of Saint Luke at Rome, and is attributed to Raphael. The saint kneels on a footstool before his easel, while the Virgin, with the child in her arms, is resting on clouds near him; she has a sweet expression of countenance, and the child seems to be very curious as to what the saint is doing. The ox is reposing behind Saint Luke, and near it is a youthful figure – called that of Raphael – watching the progress of the artist.

A small picture of the same subject in the Grosvenor Gallery is also attributed to Raphael, but a lover of his art would unwillingly admit his authorship of these works. They lack the exquisite sentiment, the refinement of expression and of execution, which he must have exhibited in the painting of this poetic scene. In truth, while there is a picture of the same subject, by Van Eyck, in the Munich Gallery, which is quaint and unusual, and one by Aldegraef, in the Belvedere, and others in various public and private collections, I have seen none that seemed to me worthy of this motive, that fitly represented the exquisite condescension of the Virgin, or the rapturous inspiration which should have possessed the artist saint in her presence.

The picture by Mabuse, also in the Vienna Gallery, however, while it does not satisfy one’s ideal, is very interesting. The scene is laid in a richly ornamented Qpen porch, where Saint Luke kneels before a desk, on which his canvas is laid; he ~olds his pencil, but an angel behind him guides his hand. The Virgin and Child appear on clouds sustained by three angels, while two others hold a splendid crown above her head. Nothing is omitted that could give the work a rich and luxurious aspect; the draperies on all the figureS are abundant, and fall in heavy, graceful folds; even the angels are draped; the hair and veil of the Virgin are beautifully designed, and her position with the Child – his hand caressing her face – is tender and attractive.

The angel assisting Saint Luke is a marvel of drapery and splendid wings, and his hair is in rows of curls, so regular and unruffled that one is assured of the calmness of the air through which he descended to earth. Saint Luke’s dress is more sombre than the angel’s, but even that is bordered with rich fur.

Every part of the architectural background is loaded with medallions and exquisite designs, and in an alcove is a statue of Moses with the Tables of the Law, mounted on an elaborate pedestal. This work is a fine example of the period, the end of the fifteenth century, and of the Van Eyck school, to which Mabuse belonged.

When one studies the costumes in the pictures of Mabuse, a story that is told of him does not seem improbable. It is that when in the service of a nobleman who expected a visit from the Emperor Charles V., Mabuse, with other retainers, was given a rich silk damask for a costume to be worn on the occasion. Mabuse obtained the consent of his patron to his superintendence of the making of his own suit. The artist then sold the silk, and made a costume of paper which he painted to represent the damask so well as to perfectly deceive the nobleman. But some one told him of the trick, and he asked the emperor which of the suits pleased him most. Charles selected that of Mabuse, and would not believe that it was ,.paper until he had touched it.

Of Saint John, a near relative of the Saviour, and “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, we have more knowledge than of the other Evangelists. A son of the fisherman Zebedee, a brother of James, a man of pure life and thought, of a sympathetic nature, he was one of the earliest followers of Christ; and ever after his discipleship began he was the constant and devoted companion of the Saviour so long as he remained on earth. It was John who was beside the Master at the Last Supper; who stood beside the cross when Jesus, in the solemn words, “Behold thy mother!” manifested his love and confidence in him; who placed the body of our Lord in the sepulchre; who witnessed the Transfiguration; and to the end of his life laboured for the spread of the religion that he loved.

He preached in Judea with Saint Peter; he founded seven churches in Asia Minor; he was sent to Rome a prisoner, and is said to have been miraculously delivered from the boiling oil into which he was cast by his persecutors, who then accused him of sorcery, and confined him on Patmos, where, it is believed, he wrote his Revelation. Being released from this exile, he eturned to his church at Ephesus, where he wrote his Gospel when ninety years old, and died a few years later.

So attractive is this Evangelist that he is more frequently seen in works of art, especially in devotional pictures, than are the other three. He has also been more oequently chosen as a patron saint. He is represented, not only as an Evangelist and saint, but also as a prophet.

In very ancient representations of this evangelist he appeared as an aged man; gradually, however, he was pictured as young, beardless, with flowing hair, and a face expressive of absorbing and even ecstatic inspiration. The eagle is always. ear him, and when crowned with stars, or having an aureole, is intended to symbolise the Holy Ghost. In some ancient representations of Saint John writing, the eagle holds the pen or the ink; in other pictures, when the saint is thus engaged, he gazes upward at a vision of the Madonna.

When Saint John holds a sacramental cup from which a serpent issues, reference is made to the legend that in Rome, the cup from which he drank and which he presented to the communicants was poisoned, but did them no harm, the poison having passed from the cup in the guise of a serpent, while the poisoner fell dead at the feet of the saint. It is said that this attempt to take the life of Saint John was commanded by the Emperor Domitian, who also sentenced him to death in boiling oil.

Another version is that Saint John was challenged to prove the power of his faith by drinking of the poisoned cup, and that while the saint was unharmed the unbeliever fell dead before him. The symbolism of the cup is also explained as referring to the words, “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup,” and again, as commemorating the institution of the celebration of the Eucharist.

This evangelist was a popular subject with the masters. A very beautiful representation is that of Correggio in the series of the Evangelists in the Cathedral of Parma. Domenichino seems to have delighted in multiplying pictures of Saint John, as Guido did his Magdalens. His pictures were frequently more picturesque and aesthetic than spiritual, as in one of the most noted, now in the Brera. Here the saint, pen in hand, kneels before the Madonna, apparently in an ecstasy. Two little beings, who might personate cupids as appropriately as angels, are seen, one caressing the eagle, the other holding the cup with the serpent. This picture is admirably composed and executed, and is a good example of Domenichino’s excellence in expression and colour.

There are pictures in which Saint John Baptist and Saint John Evangelist are both represented. They were kinsmen, both were prophets, and the Evangelist was a disciple of the Baptist before he became a follower of Jesus. They appear in certain pictures of the Madonna, and I recall the bas-relief on the tomb of Henry VII in Westminster Abbey, in which the contrast between the prophet of the wilderness and the beautiful Evangelist is most effective. One of the most acceptable representations of the two Johns is in the Church of Santa Maria-Sopra-Minerva, at Rome. I do not know the sculptor of the group which shows these saints as children playing at the feet of the Madonna, as if to amuse the Christ-child. The eagle of the Evangelist is there, while the Baptist has his reed-pipe.

Many historical pictures in which Saint John appears belong more appropriately to the Life of Christ than to that of the saint, and do not come within my province here. They are often very beautiful, and Saint John is easily recognised.

Saint John in the Island of Patmos is usually represented as writing. He is seated on a rock or under a tree, in the midst of a desolate landscape, with the sea surrounding it. He looks at a vision of the Virgin in the clouds, while the eagle attends him, near at hand. This subject is usually one of a series illustrating his life in chapels dedicated to the Evangelist; it is also frequent in ancient manuscripts.

Carlo Dolci’s picture of the Vision in the Island of Patmos, in the Pitti Gallery, is quite different from others. The saint kneels beside a rock, on which he rests his open book, and with his right hand raised to the vision, appears to be praying for her protection and aid. The Virgin is here without the child, a winged figure, with hands clasped as though she, in turn, were interceding for the saint. Below the vision is a horrible dragon – symbol of evil – apparently falling into the sea. Behind the saint, on a jagged rock, the eagle stands, with outspread wings, having an air of intense interest in the scene before him. The face and head of the aged saint are very beautiful and the hands are finely executed; the abundant and graceful drapery flowing out behind Saint John serves to give a balance to the picture, and an element of comfort which somewhat lessens the effect of the desolation surrounding him.

To me, however, there is no picture of Saint John, that I have seen, so satisfactory as that by Raphael, who introduces him in the midst of the prophets and apostles in his great picture of La Disputa, in the Vatican. The Evangelist here sits between Adam and David, apparently lost to all else in writing his visions; his face is one of the most beautiful and spiritual among the many exquisite faces by this great master.

There are several very interesting legends connected with this Evangelist, and he is believed to have performed miracles both before and after his death. Many of these are celebrated in certain localities only, and I know of no representations of them to which I wish to refer, except one which has been finely illustrated in a chapel in Santa Maria Novella, in Florence, in a most effective fresco by Filippino Lippi. The legend runs that when Saint John returned from Patmos to Ephesus, he met a funeral cortege I emerging from the gate of the city, and on inquiry learned that Drusiana had died, the woman at whose house he had formerly lived. The saint ordered the bier to be put down, and, when he had earnestly prayed, the woman was restored to life and returned with John to her house, where he again took up his abode.

Lippi’s fresco is impressive and dramatic. In the background Ephesus is seen; in the middle ground is the city gate, of splendid architectural effect. In the centre of the foreground is the bier, on which Drusiana has risen to a sitting posture, while the aged Evangelist, touching her arm with one hand, raises the other toward heaven, calling on God to aid him in working this miracle.

A number of men and women watch the scene with intense interest, among whom the bearers of the bier are striking figures. The whole picture is very spirited. Critics have objected to some of the details, as that of a child alarmed by a dog, but the work is realistic and there is no feature that is not legitimate in a street scene.

In the niches on the exterior of the church of Or San Michele, in Florence, there are remarkable statues of the Evangelists, by famous sculptors. Saint Matthew by Ghiberti; Saint Mark by Donatello, before which Michael Angelo exclaimed, “Mark, why do you not speak to me?” Saint Luke by Giovanni da Bologna; and Saint John by Baccio da Montelupo.