17th-Century, The Martyrdom Of Saint Sebastian

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A large evocative 17th-century oil on canvas depicting the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. Sebastian was a powerful force during the third century and responsible for converting many soldiers to Christianity.

In the year 288, he was martyred for his faith under the instruction of Emperor Diocletian.

“St. Sebastian, having sent so many martyrs to heaven before him, was himself impeached before the Emperor Diocletian (284-305), who… delivered him over to certain archers of Mauritania, to be shot to death. His body was covered with arrows and left for dead.”

However, following this brutal attack, he was discovered alive by Irene, the widow of Castulus, who tended to him at her lodgings. He made a full recovery during this period of convalescence and was urged to flee and escape persecution.

However, he refused to leave and instead waited in plain sight for the right time to approach the Emperor to speak out against his cruelty towards Christians.

It was at this point that Sebastian was finally martyred and his body was buried in the catacombs of Callixtus.

This particular portrayal depicts his time spent with Irene as she tended to his wounds.

Oil on canvas
35” x 29” / 89cm x 74cm
Year of creation
c. 1700
Craquelure throughout along with minor losses but the paint layer is stable following its restoration. Canvas relined.