Portrait of a Youth as Saint Sebastian

Portrait of a Youth as Saint Sebastian

late 1480s

attributed to Marco d'Oggiono

(Italian, 1460-1524)

Oil on wood, transferred to pressed wood

Framed: 47.5 x 41 x 4 cm (18 11/16 x 16 1/8 x 1 9/16 in.); Unframed: 30.5 x 24 cm (12 x 9 7/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1986.9

Description

Sebastian, a bodyguard for the Roman emperor Diocletian, was shot with arrows and was eventually drowned for his commitment to Christianity. While the arrow alludes to Saint Sebastian, the young man’s clothing dates to the late 1400s, indicating that this is a contemporary portrait, rather than an image of the historical saint. This haunting image was influenced by the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), particularly in the artist’s use of smoky shadows (called sfumato) to model the flesh. It was probably painted by Marco d’Oggiono, a Milanese artist who worked in Leonardo’s studio.

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