By Anne Leader
On 30 May 1464, Neri di Bicci painted an altarpiece depicting St Felicity and her Seven Sons for the saint’s eponymous church in Florence. According to Neri’s workshop notebook, or ricordanze, in which he recorded all of his activities from 1453 to 1475, the altarpiece’s patron was Tanai de’ Nerli (1427-98), a prominent Florentine citizen who lived in the parish of Santa Felicita. Tanai’s coat of arms is displayed prominently in the altarpiece’s predella. The Nerli arms are shown alone at the left and together with the Tornaquinci family arms in a single shield at the right. It is unclear what Nerli-Tornaqunici marriage is being referenced here since Tanai was married to Nanna Capponi, with whom he would commission Filippino Lippi to paint another altarpiece for the church of Santo Spirito after 1494. It would not be surprising to find a descendant of Tani rededicating the altar at a later date and updating the arms to honor his wife’s family.
Reference: Bruno Santi. “Neri di Bicci.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.
Neri di Bicci, Saint Felicity and her Seven Sons, 1464, oil on panel, Santa Felicità, Florence
Nerli Family Arms
Tornaquinci Family Arms
Capponi Family Arms
Neri di Bicci, Saint Felicity and her Seven Sons, detail
Filippino Lippi, Madonna and Child with Saints (Nerli Altarpiece), aft. 1494, oil on panel, Santo Spirito, Florence