TIZIANO Vecellio
(b. 1490, Pieve di Cadore, d. 1576, Venezia)

Polyptych of the Resurrection: St Sebastian

Oil on canvas
Santi Nazaro e Celso, Brescia

The panel showing St Sebastian (bottom right panel of the polyptych of the Resurrection) was finished by 1520. Jacopo Tebaldi, the representative of the Duke of Ferrara, was so impressed by the painting when he saw it in Titian's workshop that he urged his master buy it. Tebaldi offered to pay Titian 60 ducats for this single panel - Averoldi was paying him only 200 ducats for the entire altarpiece. In the end, however, the Duke of Ferrara shied away from making the purchase, probably afraid of annoying the powerful legate Averoldi.

Titian openly vies with sculpture in the figure of St Sebastian, taking inspiration from one of the slaves from Michelangelo's tomb for Julius II. He shows as much of the saint's back and front as he can and endows his flesh with a richly tinted marble-like sheen that both absorbs and reflects the light.