Saint Apollonia 331, by the “Pope of Pop,” is based on a 15th century Renaissance painting by Piero Della Francesca. In the piece, Saint Apollonia holds a tooth within pincers in reference to her grisly martyrdom in the 3rd century AD. The Patron Saint of dentists and toothaches was an apt choice for Warhol, who was constantly plagued by physical ailments. In this print of Saint Apollonia 331, the saint maintains her stoic pose against earthy tones that bring out the bright highlights in her face and hair. Warhol was a devout Catholic, attending church from a young age. His dedication to religion is likely the inspiration behind pieces such as Saint Apollonia, along with works such as The Last Supper and Cologne Cathedral.
Saint Apollonia 331 by Andy Warhol as Part of His Larger Body of Work
The five-century-old painting hangs in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.. Warhol, like many artists, studied themes surrounding religion and their inherent iconography. In this piece, he provides his artistic respect for the icon that is uniquely notable. As opposed to applying color in broad strokes and having layers purposely misalign and bleed over each other, Warhol delicately executes his image. There is very little cropping in this print compared to the original painting he referenced and he even preserves the “cracks” from the original, almost treating it as an homage.