Scala/Art Resource, New York, NY

Mark, sitting among the clouds, it seems, writes his Gospel with a quill. His symbol, the lion—winged in this case—lies beside him. The work of the Florentine sculptor Luca della Robbia (1400–1482), who specialized in ceramics, this glazed terra cotta decorates the Capella de’Pazzi, of the Santa Croce cathedral in Florence, Italy.

The Gospel of Mark displays a less-pronounced biographical nature than the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which probably used Mark as a source. Nevertheless, Mark, like the other Gospels, presents a narrative that generally follows the Greco-Roman biographical tradition.

The four symbols of the evangelists derive from the four creatures, described in Revelation 4:7, who stand on each side of the heavenly throne. Originally, Matthew was associated with the man; Luke, the ox; Mark, the eagle; and John, the lion. By the time these symbols appear in Christian art, in the fifth century, the symbols for Mark and John had been exchanged with one another.