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Saint Sebastian Cured by Irene

Panel from the altarpiece of the Saint Sebastian chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Accoules, Marseilles, done in collaboration with Bernardino Simondi (Italian, died 1498); companion to Cat. 765,766,768 and panels in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore (37.1995); the Hermitage, St. Petersburg (inv. no. 6745); the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome (no. 1590); and possibly the Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts, Antwerp (5037)

Josse Lieferinxe, French, documented 1493 - 1505/8

Made in Marseille, France, Europe

c. 1497

Oil on panel

32 × 21 9/16 inches (81.3 × 54.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 206, European Art 1100-1500, second floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 767

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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Sebastian, head of the Roman troops under the last pagan emperors, converted to Christianity about 283. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance his name was invoked against disease, particularly the bubonic plague, because he had survived the torture of the emperor's archers.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    This panel is one of four in the John G. Johnson Collection that come from Joose Liefrinxe's altarpiece for the chapel of a lay religious club in the church of Notre Dame-des-Accoules in Marseilles. They all show scenes from the life of the Roman soldier Sebastian, who, soon after he converted to Christianity in circa 283, was tortured for his faith by being shot with arrows. Here the wounded Sebastian is being nursed back to health by a Roman woman named Irene in a room that is depicted as typical wood-paneled interior of the late 1400s. The furnishings, including a canopied statue of the Virgin on the cabinet, resemble those found in the homes of the Marseilles merchants who belonged to the club that commissioned the altarpiece. Such anachronistic details would have made the ancient story seem more immediate and familiar to its contemporary audience. Carl Brandon Strehlke, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 169.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.