The screenprints in Andy Warhol’s Saint Apollonia complete portfolio are inspired by a panel painting attributed to the workshop of Piero della Francesca (1470). Apollonia is recognized as the patron saint of dentistry as it was believed that her teeth were broken with pincers during her martyrdom in the 3rd century. The 5th century painting hangs in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Though most of Warhol’s work is not equated with piety or religious themes, Warhol was a devout Catholic, which he began to explore in his art towards the 70s. Warhol’s open homosexuality did not shake his reverence, despite the Church’s conflict with the subject, which served as a great source of inspiration for Warhol. Concentrically, through his Saint Apollonia suite, Warhol explores the iconography of religious idols and the veneration that is presented through faith. In fact, Andy Warhol’s relationship with the religious symbolism in the St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church, which he attended in his youth, is speculated to be the inception of his interest in religious artwork.
However, this portfolio explores icons in a different way from his other suites, with a much more authentic representation of the original piece. Though he uses vibrant colors throughout the suite, they are muted in comparison with his other works, and the original image remains recognizable. As opposed to his typical style of applying color in broad strokes and creating purposefully misaligned layers to contort the image, Warhol executes these pieces with a precision and dedication to the original. There is very little cropping in this print compared to Francesca’s painting, and he preserves the “cracks” from the original, giving these images a texture to them that is true to the original. The Saint Apollonia complete portfolio includes FS II. 330-333.