St. Sebastian (c. 1480) by Andrea Mantegna

St. Sebastian - Andrea Mantegna - 1475

Artwork Information

TitleSt. Sebastian
ArtistAndrea Mantegna
MediumTempera on Panel
Dimensions68 x 30 cm
Art MovementEarly Renaissance
Current LocationKunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

About St. Sebastian

The artwork titled “St. Sebastian” is a creation by Andrea Mantegna, a profound artist of the Early Renaissance period. It was completed in the year 1475 using tempera on panel as the medium. Measuring 68 x 30 cm, the piece can be categorized within the genre of religious painting and is housed at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria.

The artwork depicts Saint Sebastian, a Christian saint and martyr, with his body pierced by arrows—the traditional representation of his execution. He stands upright, partially draped in cloth that enhances the portrayal of his vulnerability and suffering. The saint is positioned against a classic architectural background, showcasing Mantegna’s exemplary command of perspective and form. The contrast between his youthful, delicately modeled figure and the stark brutality of his martyrdom is strikingly rendered with meticulous attention to detail.

In the background, the sky is presented in a realistic rendering of cloud formations and blue tones, setting a dramatic stage for the saint’s ordeal. Text is inscribed on the marble, possibly signifying a dedication, which was a common practice in artworks during the Renaissance. Notable, too, is the inclusion of sculptural elements, such as the Corinthian column and the ruins around the base of the saint, which contribute to the solemnity and historical depth of the scene. These elements, along with the distant landscape, lend depth to the composition and evoke the grandeur of the era’s architectural achievements. The artwork as a whole embodies the Early Renaissance’s inclination towards humanism, the revival of classical themes, and the mastery of geometrical perspective.

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