(b. 1588, Utrecht, d. 1629, Utrecht)

St Sebastian Tended by Irene and her Maid

Oil on canvas
Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio

Terbrugghen's ability to combine exquisite painterly effects with restrained emotion accounts for the power of his masterpiece, St Sebastian Tended by Irene and her Maid. The women tenderly and efficiently go about their business of trying to save the life of the saint, who has been pierced with arrows and left for dead. The large, full forms of the group have been knit together into a magnificent design, and what could have been hard and sculptural is remarkably softened by the cool silvery light which plays over Sebastian's half-dead. olive-grey body as well as the reds, creamy whites, and plum colours worn by the women who tend the saint.