Whether or not you believe in the existence of extra-terrestrial life, there is a strange Renaissance painting in Palazzo Vecchio which has drawn considerable attention by Ufologists because of a strange circular object which it contains.
In a room on the top floor of the Palazzo Vecchio you will find a 15th century painting which is actually in the form reminiscent of a flying saucer, as it is a tondo measuring one metre in diameter. There were many paintings in this form at the time, but this painting of The Virgin and Child with St. John the Baptist, which would otherwise appear traditional, has a peculiar feature. In the background the shepherd and his dog are not watching over their flock, but craning their necks to look up into the sky, and when you follow their line of sight, what you see is a strange circular object, painted in such a way as to give the impression that it is rotating, or at least moving. Furthermore, the lower part of this curious grey-coloured “spaceship” seems to be surrounded by an aureole of spherical bodies, whilst the upper part bristles with projecting rods that remind one of antennas.
Looking at it nowadays, you would almost certainly swear that this was a UFO – perhaps seen by the person commissioning the work, who then asked the artist (undoubtedly a pupil of Filippo Lippi) to “document” it. While all this might seem highly improbable, it only took one architect to draw attention to this feature of the work in 1978 for this painting to be raised to iconic status. It immediately underwent painstaking restoration and was subjected to sophisticated analysis both in Italy and the United States, in order to rule out the possibility of the “UFO” being a hoax created by later additions. However, the enigma is yet to the resolved.
Why are the shepherd and his dog looking at this strange object in the sky? And why was that object included here? Think what you will, but there is no denying that the presence of this fifteenth-century “spaceship” has been a real boon for this undoubtedly minor painting.
So next time you are in Florence, take a look at this painting and draw your own conclusions….
(Adapted from Secret Florence by N. Rinaldi)