St. John the Baptist and Members of the Compagnia dello Scalzo
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This glazed terracotta lunette marks the entrance to the meeting place of a Florentine confraternity, the Compagnia dello Scalzo, a group which practiced self-flagellation as a form of penitence. Two members are shown carrying flagels and wearing black hooded robes, which were meant to make the members of the group anonymous, so that their devotions would not be mere public show. St John the Baptist is distinguished by being shown larger,in higher relief, frontally, and finished almost exclusively with a white glaze. The landscape background reminds viewers perhaps of the Baptism but more likely of John's time in penitence in the wilderness. Such glazed terracotta was cheaper than marble sculpture, and so more appropriate for a group advertising their penitential devotion, but also durable outdoors. The work is not documented, but it is in the style of Benedetto Buglioni, who was a member of this confraternity. (Confraternities generally commissioned works from their own members, whenever possible.) Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.