• St Sebastian Cured by St Irene

    Artist:
    Ribera, Jusepe de. 1591-1652
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    156,5x188 cm

Ribera, Jusepe de. 1591-1652

St Sebastian Cured by St Irene

Spain, 1628

Jusepe de Ribera lived the greater part of his life in Naples, which at that time belonged to the Spanish crown. The memory of Caravaggio lived on in a city where many of his followers worked. Under the influence of the great Italian’s pictures, Ribera employed the language of tenebrism – strong contrasts of light and shade – to achieve powerful dramatic effects. This is true of his early work, St Sebastian Cured by St Irene. The Spanish artist chose an episode that is practically never found in Italian painting. Here the image of the young martyr is devoid of the aura of heroism that surrounds Titian’s Sebastian, nor is he an object of admiration like Perugino’s. The saint’s wounded body, hanging helplessly by the arm still fastened to the pillar evokes a sense of pain and compassion. He is hovering between life and death, as is conveyed by the struggle between the light and the darkness encroaching on all sides. It is under the cover of night, however, that the charitable Irene has come to him with her serving woman. She draws the arrows from Sebastian’s body and treats his wounds.

Title:

St Sebastian Cured by St Irene

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

156,5x188 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1829; acquired from the collection of Duchess de Saint-Leu in Paris

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-325

Category:

Collection:

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