Andy Warhol’s Saint Apollonia 333, by the “Pope of Pop,” is based on a 15th century Renaissance painting by Piero Della Francesca. In this 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. This print of Saint Apollonia 333 bears the most resemblance to the painting it took inspiration from, using similar colors to the original, while adding a vibrancy that is not apparent in Francesca’s version.
Saint Apollonia 33 as Part of Andy Warhol’s 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.