Joachim Anthonisz. Wtewael: The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian (1600)

(Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, USA)

Joachim Wtewael was a Dutch painter from the 16th/ 17th century. Wtewael mainly produced history paintings. This painting shows the popular Christian saint and martyr Saint Sebastian of Avla. According to the story, Saint Sebastian was an officer in the Praetorian Guard under the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian who converted a number of people. When it was discovered that Sebastian was a Christian, emperor Diocletian ordered him to be put to death. He was bound to a stake and shot by archers. The arrows however did not kill him and Sebastian was healed back by Saint Irene of Rome. Sebastian later harangued Diocletian as the emperor passed by and Diocletian had Sebastian beaten to death and had his body thrown into a privy. Saint Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes, soldiers, archers and protects against the plague. His feast day is 20 January. Painting from 1600.