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Distinct groups of men and women are painted in monochrome in a linear arrangement, recalling ancient pagan sculpture. At the center, a ram and a panther are sacrificed on an altar. Its inscription translates as, “To You, the One God” or, “To You, the Sun God.” The bald man wearing black in the background is Cosimo I de’ Medici, while his mother is the older woman wearing a headdress.

This mysterious painting was likely designed for the private quarters of Cosimo I’s wife, Eleonora di Toledo, in the Medici palace in Florence (the Palazzo Vecchio). The palace’s profuse decoration, completed by Giorgio Vasari, portrays the Medici duke in various biblical and mythological guises. This painting was one of the final works of the artist Pontormo, whose disquieting style suits the strange subject.

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