Among the magnificent paintings on the spiritual theme, Andrea Mantegna has a series of three paintings created at different times under the same name – “Saint Sebastian”. The most famous of them is the second work of 1480, now kept in the Louvre.
Sebastian – now canonized saint, and earlier – in the interval of III-IV centuries – a soldier of the legion and a follower of Christian doctrine. The reigning emperor Diocletian was against Jesus and his followers, cruelly persecuting them. Learning that a preacher of a new faith appeared among his legionnaires, he ordered his comrades to shoot the apostate with arrows to death.
As the story conveys, the Christian survived, his wife left, or another supporter of Christ. The man continued the work of preaching, which led to the re-execution. This time he was stoned to death and thrown into the gutter of the city. According to the angel’s instruction, the body was found by Christian Lukina, who buried him in the catacombs.
The image of Sebastian’s martyrdom is a fairly common religious story with painters. But everyone sees and shows the audience the different facets of the spiritual achievement of man and his significance for history. Mantegna writes in 1480 the saint as a courageous man.
The entire lower part of the body is carved with arrows of archers. Legs are tied to a collapsing antique statue. This is a symbolic symbol – the fall of Greco-Roman idols, the departure into non-being of paganism. Near the “statue” of the martyr are visible the remains of a completely destroyed marble hero. The person killed is strong, his eyes are directed towards heaven with faith, his face is wrinkled as evidence of wisdom and knowledge.
Mantegna paid a lot of attention to details in the image of the body, architecture, background. The amazing detail of the description retreats only before the brilliantly embodied idea of the formation of Christianity by shedding the blood of martyrs.