Collection Online

view lightboxview list

Saint Sebastian, ca. 1500

Artist: Attributed to Gian Francesco de Maineri, Italian (Ferrarese School), active 1489-1506

Medium: Oil on wood panel

Painting: 13 1/4 x 8 3/4 in. (33.7 x 22.2 cm)
Frame: 18 3/4 x 14 1/4 in. (47.6 x 36.2 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Object Number: 61.199

Not on view

Contessa Renato Avogli-Trotti (1875-1946), Paris; Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (1878-1955), Rome-Florence, Sept. 1, 1939 [as Venetian or Ferrarese School]; Samuel H. Kress (1863-1955), New York, New York, 1961

Maineri was a native of Parma and was a painter for the courts and churches of Ferrara and Mantua.  While the identification and attribution of works to the artist has posed a problem for scholars, this painting bears a close resemblance to others more securely associated with Maineri.

 

The subject of St. Sebastian was a popular one in Italy during both the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  Historically, the martyr was a member of the Roman Imperial Bodyguard who was betrayed due to his belief in the Christian faith.  As a result, he was taken by Roman soldiers to the Appian way, tied to a tree, and died a target of their arrows.  He looks heavenward as a symbol of his piety.  Artistically, the depiction of St. Sebastian provided artists a vehicle for the illustration of the nearly-nude male body, a pre-occupation during the Renaissance in problems of anatomy and the imitation of nature.  Here, the artist has placed the figure within a shell-like niche reflecting the Renaissance interest in classical architecture and ornament.

                                                            

The partially obliterated inscription at the Saint's feet reads SANCTE SEBASTIANE, or Saint Sebastian.