Jacopo Vignali depicts Saint Lawrence in state of quiet reflection, his regard delicate and serene. He is shown wearing the deacon's dalmatic, his hands resting on a gridiron, his attribute. Saint Lawrence, martyred in Rome in 258, was instructed by Pope Sixtus II to distribute the church's treasures among the poor. When ordered by a Roman prefect to surrender the treasures to him, Lawrence pointed to the poor and sick and said 'Here are the treasures of the Church', upon which he was sentenced to death. Saint Lawrence's story of charity and compassion for the sick must have been popular in Florence in the 1630s, as it would have provided a source of comfort for the victims of the plagues that ravaged that city in 1630-3.
The depiction of single saints on this scale was a favorite of the artist; see for example, Saint James the Greater (Christie's, London, 8 December 2006, lot 237), which was dated to the early 1630s, or the very beautiful octagonal canvas, Saint Catherine of Alexandria with an Angel (Christie's, London, 5 July 1991, lot 90). Another Saint Lawrence has also appeared on the art market (Christie's, London, 18 July 1974, lot 126). In these pictures Vignali conveys a sense of emotion through the delicate rendering of individual features, subtle sfumato and rich color.