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Reflections on the Collection: The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professors at the National Gallery of Art: Thomas Kren on Giovanni d’Alemagna’s Saint Apollonia Destroys a Pagan Idol (c. 1442/1445)

Thomas Kren (former associate director for collections, J. Paul Getty Museum and 2016 Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professor at the National Gallery of Art) examines Saint Apollonia Destroys a Pagan Idol, part of an altarpiece by Giovanni d’Alemagna. Kren describes the inherent tension between the artist’s use of pious subjects and the beautiful, at times sensual, representation of the nude. Even as the early Christian saint attacks the pagan statue of Apollo, this painting exemplifies a paradoxical embrace of ancient sculptural and architectural forms that characterized Renaissance art.