Saint Sebastian – Nationalmuseum – Stockholm

The panel, dating back to about 1490, depicts a recurring subject in the production of Perugino, Saint Sebastian while suffering martyrdom: an arrow is already piercing his left side.

The composition slightly differs from the usual representation in Perugino’s works (i.e. the Saint Sebastian at the Musée du Louvre): the young Christian soldier is in fact tied by his wrists to a tree, and not to a column. Even the features of the body of the saint, who is naked except for a drape that wraps his hips, recalls an adolescent physique, unlike other representations where the appearance of the soldier refers to the classical ideals of ancient statuary.

The face, raised to the sky, repeats the sweet appearance typical of Perugino, and the look, languidly pointed upwards, does not betray signs of suffering.
The scene is set outdoors, in a hilly landscape that probably suffers from the influence of the Flemish tables that in those years were coming to Florence: in the foreground Perugino represented various plant species, among which a white lily, symbol of purity, stands out.
The painting is preserved at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Perugino, Saint Sebastian, about 1490, panel, 88 x 174 cm, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum (Photo: Erik Cornelius).