In “Pala di Bosco ai Frati,” originally created to adorn a Franciscan monastery in Tuscany, Dominican friar and Renaissance master Beato Angelico featured palm trees in the background against a dark sky, to represent the martyrdom of Jesus.
Early mannerist painter Andre Del Sarto features a classic art history subject, St. Sebastian, holding the arrow, the tool with which it was killed, as well as a palm branch, the symbol of martyrdom.
It’s not just Mediterranean artists who used the palm tree as a symbol of martyrdom in paintings. Flemish artist Marten Pepijn featured palm trees in this representation of St. Lawrence and the Christ Child.
High Renaissance painter Correggio, famous for his delicate portraits of human emotions, featured a palm tree in this moving portrait of St. Catherine of Alexandria, who died as a martyr in the 4th century during the Roman Empire’s persecution of Christians.
Renaissance master Raffaello Sanzio impressed critics with this incredibly realistic portrait of a palm tree, which he positioned between the Christ Child and Mary as a symbol of the future crucifixion of Jesus.