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Tilman Riemenschneider

Saint Sebastian

Artist

Tilman Riemenschneider
Heiligenstadt about 1460 – Würzburg 1531

Title

Saint Sebastian

Date

About 1510

Materials

Wood, traces of polychrome

Dimensions

71 x 25 x 12 cm

Credits

Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest and gift of L. V. Randall, inv. 1971.8

Collection

Western Art

Riemenschneider, one of the most successful German sculptors of his time, spent most of his career in Würzburg. His conservative, late Gothic figures are elongated, refined and delicate-limbed. The ethereal, spiritual character of Saint Sebastian is further accentuated in this statue by an emaciated body and protruding Adam’s apple. According to tradition, Saint Sebastian was a third-century Roman soldier sentenced to be shot with arrows when his Christian faith was discovered. This Saint Sebastian is among the rare examples of Riemenschneider’s art outside Germany and is one of three surviving studio models Riemenschneider carved for workshop assistants to copy. It is extraordinary as an exploration of the male nude by the artist. The figure's missing left hand would originally have supported the raised drapery.

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