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Interpretation Name
Starting data/assertions
1) In the Flagellazione, in the background scene, there is a column with a statue provided with a globe and a lance on the top of it
2) Ponzio Pilato presents the attributes of the Byzantine regality: purple cap and shoes
3) Pilate's iconography refers to portraits of John VIII made by Pisanello
4) The person who observes the flagellation is barefoot (he hasn't the purple shoes yet) and wears a turban on which the author has worked a lot
5) The foreground person with the beard refers to the portraits of Bessarione
6) The person in the foreground dressed in blue finds comparisons with the preparatory carpets of Pisanello depicting Niccolò III d'Este
7) The blond young man in the center is dressed in purple and free of footwear
Reasoning steps
1) Pilate represents John VIII who observes the martyrdom of Byzantium without intervening
2) The column refers to the one present in the Forum of Constantine in Byzantium where there was a column surmounted by a statue with the Emperor represented as Helios Apollo
3) The person with the turban represents the sultan, who is barefoot, since he has not taken the boots from the basileus yet
4) The purple dress indicates that the young blond man belongs to the imperial family
5) The fact that the young blond is bare indicates a predestined but unrealized regality
6) The blond figure could be identified with Thomas Paleologist
Final Interpretation
The Flagellation symbolizes the Council of Ferrara-Florence from 1438-39 and the three characters in the foreground represent, in the order, Bessarione, Thomas Paleologist, Niccolò III d'Este. But the work is dated to the fifties of the fifteenth century, so Piero, with this painting, would also place himself in the "horizon of hopes" of the imminent Council of Mantua of 1459.