This dramatic narrative depicts the moment at which the Roman governor Herod-Agrippa, appearing on the loggia of his palace in Jerusalem, commands the arrest of Saint Peter. The soldiers assembled in Herod’s courtyard quickly respond to his orders, while Peter, facing forward, raises his right hand in a gesture that suggests both resignation and benediction.
The panel was one of a sequence of scenes from the life of Saint Peter that originally appeared in the lower register (predella) of a massive altarpiece designed for the church of San Pier Maggiore in Florence. The story of Peter’s arrest was the first in the series and was paired with a panel showing his liberation from prison that is now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Related panels exist in the Vatican Museums, while the upper sections of the altarpiece are now in the National Gallery, London.