Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian – Church of San Sebastiano – Panicale
The fresco is painted in the back wall of the church of San Sebastiano. Saint Sebastain is represented during the martyrdom, by the soldiers of Diocletian by means of arrows; the saint, miraculously surviving these pointed weapons, becomes the protector against epidemics, which in ancient times were believed to be carried by infected arrows. The city of Panicale, two years before the execution of the painting, had been besieged by the Duke of Valentino, whose army had camped in nearby Fontignano in 1503; the following year the plague broke out.
The composition of the scene is elegant and perspective: Saint Sebastian, in the center of the representation, stands on a plinth while is tied to a column. The figure of the saint perfectly divides in half the arcades of the loggia behind him, which opens onto a landscape the plausibly evocates the Lake Trasimeno, given the geographical position of the village. Just above Saint Sebastian, God appears with the Globe in his left hand; the martyr looks at Him, and the expression on his face is full of trust and devotion. Meanwhile, arranged around Saint Sebastian on a geometric floor, four dynamic soldiers shoot their arrows energetically.
Perugino didn’t receive the agreed payment at the end of the works, so in June 1507 he denounced the community of Panicale and its representatives at the Nobile Collegio del Cambio of Perugia, to finally be recognized, in September, the payment of 11 florins he was waiting for.
The painting is preserved in the church of San Sebastiano in Panicale, near Perugia.