Anachronistic Art: The Madonna with Saint Giovannino

The painting pictured above is a 15th Century piece titled The Madonna with St. Giovannino by an Italian Renaissance painter named Domenico Ghirlandaio. Ghirlandaio lived and worked in Florence and lead a workshop that one of the most famous Renaissance Painters of all time--Michaelangelo--apprenticed at.

Take a close look at the upper right area of the sky in the background. That isn't just any celestial object. There are stylized stars throughout painted in gold leaf, but there's something peculiar about that particular object. An Unidentified Flying Object, perhaps?

According to what I've read on various online sources, the fallback explanation is that the "UFO" is a biblical symbol or script. What confuses me is the context of the object in the sky in comparison to the rest of the painting. They seem completely unrelated. The Nativity Star is also in the background of the painting, but there is no explanation for the unidentifiable flying saucer or symbol.

I wonder what a Byzantine painter would have thought of a UFO flying above him. Much like today, he would have been somewhat limited in his perception due to cultural influence.  Perhaps strange aerial events then were interpreted biblically, or perhaps the description of such events had to be hidden in religious artwork to prevent accusations of blasphemy.  Either way, the object's resemblance to an unexplained phenomenon that still exists today can't be ignored.  

Unusually Yours,


Tobias Wayland