St Sebastian (1520 – 1522) by Titian

St Sebastian - Titian - 1520 - 1522

Artwork Information

TitleSt Sebastian
Date1520 - 1522
Dimensions170 x 65 cm
Art MovementHigh Renaissance

About St Sebastian

The artwork “St Sebastian” is a distinguished example of High Renaissance art created by the illustrious artist Titian between 1520 and 1522. This oil-on-wood painting measures 170 by 65 centimeters and forms part of the “Polyptych of the Resurrection” series. It is characterized by its religious thematics, a genre commonly explored during the period.

In the depiction, St. Sebastian, a venerated Christian martyr, is presented in a state of physical torment yet spiritual serenity. The composition shows the saint bound to a tree, his muscular torso slightly twisted, conveying a sense of movement and tension. One arrow can be seen piercing his side—an emblematic attribute of his suffering.

Titian has masterfully rendered the anatomy of St. Sebastian with great detail and care, highlighting the interplay of light and shadow to sculpt the figure’s form. The painting also employs a restricted palette, with subtle variations of color that accentuate the flesh and create a lifelike representation. The backdrop of the painting, cloaked in a serene, almost melancholic blue hue, suggests an open landscape that contrasts with the intense drama of the figure.

Notably, the depiction adheres to the High Renaissance ideals of perfect proportion, balance, and the pursuit of ideal beauty. The graceful pose and idealized muscular form of St. Sebastian are evocative of the classical influences that pervaded artistic creations of the era.

The emotional impact of the artwork is profound—it beautifully captures the essence of martyrdom by portraying St. Sebastian as both a human being subject to physical pain and a spiritual figure exuding divine grace in the face of adversity.

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