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Israel in Egypt's Land, ca. 1947

Artist: Ralph Hammer Scharf, American, b. 1923

Medium: Etching

Composition: 9 3/4 x 11 3/4 in. (24.8 x 29.8 cm)
Sheet: 13 x 15 in. (33 x 38.1 cm)

Credit Line: Bequest of Dr. Louis Levy

Object Number: 61.119

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 roblems 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.