St. Sebastian (c. 1618) by Peter Paul Rubens

St. Sebastian - Peter Paul Rubens - c.1614

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Artwork Information

TitleSt. Sebastian
ArtistPeter Paul Rubens
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions200 x 120 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationGemäldegalerie, Berlin, Germany

About St. Sebastian

The artwork titled “St. Sebastian” is a religious painting by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, dating from circa 1614. Executed in oil on canvas, it measures 200 by 120 centimeters and is a notable expression of the Baroque art movement. The painting is currently held in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, Germany, where it is on public display.

In the artwork, St. Sebastian is depicted as a youthful and muscular figure enduring the torment of his martyrdom. His near-naked body is bound to a tree and pierced by several arrows, a testament to his suffering. Yet, despite the agony implied by the arrows, his face conveys a sense of resignation and fortitude, possibly alluding to the spiritual transcendence over his physical pain.

Rubens employs dramatic lighting to highlight the saint’s physique, accentuating the tension and emotion of the scene. The play of shadows and light across St. Sebastian’s body exemplifies the Baroque emphasis on contrast and movement. In the background, the subdued landscape with dark tones adds a sense of depth and isolation to the composition, further focusing attention on the central figure of the saint.

Overall, the artwork is a potent combination of intense emotional expression and masterful artistic technique, characteristic of Rubens’ work and the Baroque era.

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