The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.
17th century French school.
Oak panel, 30 cm x 56 cm
Carved wooden frame, 17th style, 19th time, gilded with gold
Description of the table:
Sébastien is a holy Roman martyr who lived, according to tradition, in the 3rd century. It is celebrated on January 20 in the West and December 18 in the East.
Born in Narbonne, Gaul, Sébastien is a citizen of Milan, Italy. A career soldier, he was taken by the affection of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian Hercules, who called him a centurion. In a context of persecutions against Christians, he was nevertheless executed on the orders of the sovereigns for having supported his co-religionists in their faith and performed several miracles. First tied to a pole and pierced with arrows, he is finally killed with rods (an instrument of bodily punishment formed by a flexible wand or a handful of twigs) after having miraculously healed the first time.
Patron saint of archers, infantrymen and police officers but also the third patron of Rome (with Peter and Paul), Saint Sebastian is especially called upon to fight against the plague and epidemics in general. Often represented in the arts, he became a homoerotic symbol during the Renaissance before being considered a homosexual icon from the 19th century.
The scene takes place in ancient temple ruins, Saint Sebastian being an Italian citizen.
Saint Sebastian is the center of this scene, but it is not by him that our eye is first drawn.
Indeed, our eyes are rather attracted by all these characters who are around Saint Sebastian. Soldiers, the "executioners" of Saint Sebastian, who are archers, spectators, men on horses (perhaps the sponsors?).
In the foreground, we see very distinctly the faces of the characters, their colorful clothes, their horses. Everything is done with perfect mastery.
In the background, although the characters are more distant, the realization of his last is perfectly clear and constructed.
The background of the city shows us that the scene could take place in Italy.
The fact that Saint Sebastian is at the center of the scene and that he is above the ruins and the figures, accentuates the perspective of the painting which is remarkably produced here.
Note that all the characters are turned towards Saint Sebastian. Only one person turns their head and looks in another direction ...