SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO
(b. 1485, Venezia, d. 1547, Roma)

Martyrdom of St Agatha

1520
Oil on wood, 127 x 178 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

A knife in the lower left corner draws attention to the artist's inscription, a curiously cruel association with the torture taking place. Agatha, subjected to a series of gender-specific tests and torments, emerged virtuous and victorious. In a work that his contemporaries considered his best, Sebastiano displayed the virgin saint's unmarred, uncringing, and Michelangelesque body.