The picture which banners this blog page of Society of Saints is part of a larger artwork composed as an altar piece by Alessio Baldovinetti around 1454 in Italy. Entitled ‘Madonna and Child with Saints”, it is a work of tempura on wood.
If you go to http://www.wga.hu/index.html (Web Gallery of Art), click Enter Here, click Search and in the search criteria put ‘saints’ in the Title box, at the bottom of page 1 of the resultant searches you should find an image of the complete artwork.
In the full image there are two rows of Saints.
The back row: (from left to right) Saints Cosmas and Damian, St John the Baptist, Our Lady with the infant Lord Jesus on her lap, St Lawrence, St Julian and St Anthony of Egypt.
The front row: (from left to right) St Francis of Assisi and St Peter the Martyr (a.k.a. St Peter of Verona)
It strikes me that this altar piece was designed as a microcosm of heaven, where just about every path to holiness is represented. Our Lady represents all virgins, all mothers and all women martyrs (the martyrs have red in their clothing and sometimes carry palms of victory and/or an image of the instruments with which they were martyred). The Child Jesus as well as being the focus of heaven, might also represent all innocent children. The laity are represented by Saints Cosmas and Damian, physicians and martyrs. St John the Baptist represents the prophets and the holy ones of the Old Testament. St Lawrence the Deacon represents deacons – note the grid-iron on the hem of his clothes. St Julian of Caesarea is a catechumen and martyr – only one shoulder is covered with the white robe of the newly baptised showing that he aspired to baptism. St Anthony of Egypt represents all holy hermits and contemplatives. St Francis of Assisi represents exorcists/deacons, Franciscans and monks. St Peter of Verona represents priests, Dominicans and monks. A microcosm such as this would have been very representative of those gathered to celebrate the holy Eucharist in an Italian parish church of the 15th century. Even today anyone looking at this altar piece would feel the invitation to take their own place kneeling before the infant Lord Jesus between St Francis of Assisi and St Peter of Verona.
(more details about this picture will be added soon)