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St. Sebastian

European Art

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St. Sebastian

Artwork Details

Artist/Maker

Lorenzo Costa
Italian, ca. 1460–1535

Date

ca. 1480s

Medium

Tempera on panel

Accession #

58.39 B

Dimensions

14 7/8 x 5 1/2 inches (FRAMED IN PAIRS)

Location

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

Description

St. Sebastian is one of eight saints Lorenzo Costa painted in the late 1400s. The graceful figures originally flanked a central devotional image on a monumental altarpiece, likely in or near Bologna, Italy. The saints are identifiable by their attributes and by their names, which are inscribed underneath them in a northern Italian dialect. Devotees used this information to find the saints who were most relevant to their personal needs.

The arrows shot through St. Sebastian’s body refer to his torture at the hands of the Romans. Because he survived the attack, he was invoked as protection against the plague. Archers, soldiers, and the ill would have recognized these visual cues and prayed to him.

Credit

Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation