ANDRÉ DURAND Twenty-First Century Paintings
Oil on linen
‘The conception of an intellectual and virginal manliness, which clenches its teeth and stands in modest defiance of the swords and spears that pierce its side.’ That was beautiful, it was SPIRITUAL, it was exact, despite the suggestion of too great passivity it held. Forbearance in the face of fate, beauty constant under torture, are not merely passive. They are a positive achievement, an explicit triumph; and the figure of Sebastian is the most beautiful symbol, if not of art as a whole, yet certainly of the art we speak of here.
Thomas Mann, Death in Venice (1912)
“Saint Sebastian said[to the emperor Diocletian]: Always I have worshipped Jesu Christ for thy health and for the state of Rome, and I think for to pray and demand help of the idols of stone is a great folly. With these words Diocletian was much angry and wroth, and commanded him to be led to the field and there to be bounden to a stake for to be shot at. And the archers shot at him till he was as full of arrows as an urchin is full of pricks, and thus left him there for dead. The night after came a christian woman for to take his body and to bury it, but she found him alive and brought him to her house, and took charge of him till he was all whole".
The Life of Sebastian fromThe Golden Legend
Compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, 1275. Translated by William Caxton, 1483