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
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About St. Sebastian

Andrea Mantegna, a prominent painter of the Early Renaissance period, created three paintings depicting St. Sebastian. The saint was believed to have protected against the plague as he was shot through by arrows. In Mantegna’s rendition, an older St. Sebastian is depicted being executed for betraying Emperor Diocletian.

Mantegna was known for his experimentation with perspective and had a fundamentally sculptural approach to painting which is manifest in his depiction of St. Sebastian surrounded by classical architectural ruins and lush landscapes.

His paintings convey dynamic movement and detailed anatomical accuracy, particularly in Sebastian’s twisted pose that shows his muscles contracting around the arrows pierced into him, which gives a vivid impression of pain and suffering encapsulated in art.

It has been suggested that the painting may have been commissioned to celebrate the end of the Padua plague that spread in 1456-57, as sebastine was regarded as protector against epidemics at this time. Generally speaking, Andrea Mantegna’s depiction of St. Sebastian remains one of most revered artworks from the Early Renaissance period with its magnificent use of light and shadows to show anatomy so effectively; it is undoubtedly worth seeing by Art enthusiasts worldwide.

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