Study for "The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian" (for the Augustinian monastery at Diessen, Germany)

Study for "The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian" (for the Augustinian monastery at Diessen, Germany)

1739

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

(Italian, 1696-1770)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 67.5 x 45.5 x 6 cm (26 9/16 x 17 15/16 x 2 3/8 in.); Unframed: 51.7 x 31.7 cm (20 3/8 x 12 1/2 in.)

Delia E. Holden and L. E. Holden Funds 1946.277

Description

In 1739 a pair of monumental altarpieces by two Venetian painters (Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Giambattista Pittoni) were installed in a church in southern Germany, part of a carefully orchestrated decorative program that included architecture, painting, sculpture, and decorative stuccowork. This sketch is Tiepolo’s initial design for his altarpiece, submitted for approval before beginning the final work. With quick, assured brushstrokes, he represents the Christian martyr Sebastian bound to a tree and shot with arrows, flooded with radiant light to symbolize his devotion to his faith.

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