Artist: Francesco Botticini
Medium: Tempera on wood panel
Size: 228.6 x 377.2 cm
Location: National Gallery, London.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Nine Ladies Dancing...
The dancing ladies are thought to represent either the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit, or, as depicted in this large painting by Florentine painter Francesco Botticini , the nine choirs of angels. The most influential Christian angelic hierarchy was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 4th or 5th century and Thomas Aquinas drew on passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, to develop a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs. Although both authors drew on the New Testament, the Biblical canon is relatively silent on the subject. Thus these hierarchies are highly speculative.