Saint Sebastian – Musée du Louvre – Paris

The work shows a recurring subject in Perugino’s works: the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, a Roman soldier condemned for his Christian faith.
The saint is exactly at the center of the composition, tied to a column of red porphyry; the martyrdom is already going on, two arrows have pierced his chest and his right arm: despite this, however, there is no trace of pain on Sebastian’s youthful face, while his ecstatic gaze is turned upwards.
The naked body, covered only by a thin cloth delicately knotted on his hips, follows the ideal beauty of classical statuary, proposing the chiasmic pose with the right leg bearing and the left softly flexed.
The setting is slightly raised by a step, whose edge in the foreground bears the inscription SAGITTAE. TUAE.INFIXAE. SUNT. MICHI (“Your arrows have pierced me”), from Psalm 37.
The perfectly centered scene of the martyrdom is framed in the background by round arches supported by quadrangular pillars, richly decorated with grotesque motifs and ending with very simple but strongly projecting capitals. Moreover, in the left part of the painting the presence of ruins (such as a fragment of column) contributes to the archaic setting of the scene.
Beyond a low parapet it is possible to see the hilly landscape typical in Perugino’s works, characterized by soft hills that fade into the sky interrupted only by the foliage of a few trees.
The painting is preserved at the Musée du Louvre, in Paris.