St. Sebastian (Botticelli)

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St. Sebastian
Sandro Botticelli 054.jpg
Artist Sandro Botticelli
Year 1474
Type Tempera on panel
Dimensions 195 cm × 75 cm (77 in × 30 in)
Location Staatliche Museen, Berlin

St. Sebastian is a painting by the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, executed in 1474 for the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, Florence. It is housed in the Staatliche Museen of Berlin.

Criticism and influence

Kenneth Clark considered this picture remarkable for its closeness to the spirit of harmonious repose found in classical sculpture:

There are several reasons why for fifty years or more Donatello's David had no successors... Another is the inherent restlessness of the Florentine temperament. Apollo is static. His gestures are dignified and calm. But the Florentines loved movement, the more violent the better. The two great masters of the nude in the late quattrocento, Pollaiuolo and Botticelli, are concerned with embodiments of energy or ecstatic motion, with a wrestling Hercules or a flying angel, and only once, in Botticelli's St. Sebastian, achieve a satisfactory nude in repose.[1]

Rainer Maria Rilke's poem "Sankt Sebastian" (in Neue Gedichte, 1907) seems to have a close correspondence in description and mood to Botticelli's painting, as Rilke's translator J.B. Leishman and Jane Davidson Reid have observed.[2]


  1. Kenneth Clark, The Nude: A study in ideal form, 1956, ch. 2, "Apollo."
  2. Jane Davidson Reid, "Rilke's Sebastian and the Painters," Art Journal 27 (1967), pp. 24-33 + 39.