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
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.