The Execution of the Four Crowned Martyrs

Niccolò di Pietro Gerini

About 1385/1390

The legend of the Four Crowned Martyrs refers to Christian sculptors working for the Emperor Diocletian (depicted on the left with crown and scepter) who refused his order to carve a statue of a pagan god. As punishment the emperor had the sculptors sealed alive in lead coffins and thrown into a river. This panel originally depicted the flowing river in the foreground, but was cut along the bottom edge at some unknown date. The painting is one of a series by Gerini depicting different episodes from the same legend. They were grouped together around a central panel that probably portrayed the Four Crowned Martyrs, and were all attached to a pier in Orsanmichele, Florence.