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Saint Sebastian

European Art

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Saint Sebastian

Artwork Details


Giovanni Minelli
Italian, 1440–1528


ca. 1485–1490



Accession #



43 x 12 x 9 1/2 inches


On View - Stent Family Wing, Level 2, Gallery 204


Boldly modeled, highly emotional, and rigorously naturalistic, Minelli’s terra-cottas capture the dynamic spirit of the early Renaissance. In Saint Sebastian, Minelli demonstrates an impressive understanding of human anatomy and psychology, an interest that he shared with many of his contemporaries in Venice and Florence. The saint’s bones, muscles, and sinews pulsate with energy, expressing the pain and suffering Sebastian endured as he was shot with numerous arrows. (Wooden arrows would originally have been inserted in the holes that riddle the body.) Unlike earlier images, which showed Sebastian as calm and passive, Minelli’s sculpture appeals to our sympathy and compassion.


Purchase in honor of Olivia Holt, President of the Members Guild, 2004-2005, through exchange with funds from the Friends of Art, and through prior acquisitions from Mr. and Mrs. George Levin, Henry B. Scott Fund, and the Friends of Art in memory of Florence Hand Hinman

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