St. Sebastian (Mantegna)

St. Sebastian (Mantegna)

Artist Andrea Mantegna

Date ca. 1450s

Movement Italian Renaissance

Medium Tempera on panel

Dimensions 26.75 x 12”

Housed at Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


Mantegna was well-versed in ancient art forms and had an interest in archaeology. Here, he depicts St. Sebastian, an early Christian martyr, propped against Classical ruins. The Saint’s body is portrayed with precise physicality, and is pierced by a horde of arrows that seem to balance each other. Two archers disappear into the distant and help to indicate the passage of time; and yet, the warm, afternoon light, coupled with the ruins and soft clouds, gives the impression of time standing still.