Peter Paul Rubens (?), St Sebastian © Peter Maes
According to legend, Sebastian was an officer of the Praetorian guard in the time of the Roman emperor Diocletian (245-313).
When the emperor learned that Sebastian was a Christian, he had him tied to a tree and shot with arrows at the Colosseum. After this, Sebastian was supposedly cared for by the widow Irene, but in Rubens’s painting it is angels who take pity on him. Sebastian’s cuirass stands in the left foreground.
Rubens lived in Italy from 1600 to 1608. During this sojourn he studied the art of antiquity and the work of the great Italian masters of the Renaissance, such as Raphael, Michelangelo and Titian. At the same time, he carried out important commissions. The extent of Rubens’s Italian oeuvre remains a thorny question, however. More in-depth research is needed to decide whether this canvas can be attributed to Rubens with any certainty. A presumably autograph version of this painting, dating from around 1604, is in the Palazzo Corsini in Rome.
Peter Paul Rubens (?) (1577-1640)
oil on canvas
On long-term loan from the Schoeppler Collection, Germany