St Sebastian (c.1575) by Titian

St Sebastian - Titian - c.1575

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Artwork Information

TitleSt Sebastian
Dimensions212 x 116 cm
Art MovementMannerism (Late Renaissance)
Current LocationHermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

About St Sebastian

The artwork “St Sebastian” by the renowned artist Titian, created circa 1575, is a quintessential work of the Mannerism (Late Renaissance) movement. It is executed in oil on canvas, with dimensions of 212 x 116 cm. This religious painting is part of the collection at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The artwork depicts Saint Sebastian, a Christian martyr who is traditionally shown tied to a tree or post and shot with arrows. Titian portrays the saint as a nearly nude figure, with an idealized and muscular physique that reflects the Renaissance interest in the human form. The saint’s body is pierced by arrows, yet his facial expression is one of serene acceptance rather than agony. His upward gaze might indicate spiritual rapture or a looking toward the heavens.

Titian’s mastery of chiaroscuro—the strong contrasts between light and dark—is evident in the way Saint Sebastian’s skin seems to glow against the dark, tumultuous background, giving the figure an almost ethereal presence. The dramatic use of shadow and light also serves to emphasize the contours of Sebastian’s muscular body, reinforcing the spiritual and physical struggle depicted. The sense of movement, which is characteristic of the Mannerist style, is subtly apparent in the twist of Sebastian’s torso and the flowing drapery that clings to his lower body.

Despite the grim subject matter, the artwork is imbued with a sense of grace and beauty, capturing the transcendence of the human spirit in the face of suffering. This interplay of physical suffering and spiritual exaltation makes this piece a poignant example of religious art from the Late Renaissance period.

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