The Triumphal Arch at San Vitale

Left side
Right side

6th century
Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

The arch contains fifteen tondos separated by pairs of dolphins: one tondo for Christ at the summit, twelve for the apostles and two for St. Gervasius and St. Protasius. The latter were the sons of St. Vitalis, the namesake of the basilica. The apostles are arranged in an order that follows Matthew 10:1-4, alternating between the two sides, with the exception that Paul is included and Matthias is not. Thus Peter is on the left and Paul on the right, then Andrew on the left and James on the right, and so on. Following one of the gospel lists is a common procedure in western arrangements of apostolic portraits, though not in the East (Shepherd, 102). Some of the apostles have facial features that would be associated with them for centuries: Peter's short, square beard; Paul's long, pointy beard and receding hairline; Andrew's wild hair; John's youthful, beardless face. All the figures wear an inner tunic, outer tunic, and pallium, the customary dress of the time.

View in full resolution the left side and the right side.
Also see close-ups of the tondos for Saints Gervasius, Protasius, Peter, Paul, and Andrew.

Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.