Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina, Saint Sebastian, c. 1506

Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina

(active 1489 - c. 1536)

Saint Sebastian

c. 1506

Oil on panel

69 3/8 x 32 7/8 in. (176.2 x 83.5 cm)

Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Algur H. Meadows Collection, MM.76.02

Hear a reading of the object label (1:28 minutes)

Audio Transcript

Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina was one of the first Spanish painters to bring the style of the Italian High Renaissance to Spain. A native of Almedina (Ciudad Real, Spain), Yáñez has usually been identified as the “Ferrando Spagnuolo” who is documented as working in the Florentine workshop of Leonardo da Vinci in 1505. The idealized anatomy and radiant features of the young saint, as well as in the carefully balanced composition with its studied atmospheric perspective, are evidence that Yáñez had assimilated Italian Renaissance traditions. In particular, the fine, delicate facial type, crisply delineated foliage, and gentle chiaroscuro recall Leonardo’s style.

During the time of Christian persecution in the late third century, Sebastian was a respected officer in the personal guard of the Roman Emperor Diocletian; however, he was also a crypto-Christian, winning many converts to the faith and discreetly comforting martyrs and steeling them to face their deaths with courage. When Sebastian’s beliefs were finally revealed to the emperor, it was ordered that he be shot through with arrows and left for dead, a fate he accepted with his accustomed grace. But when he was discovered still alive, Diocletian then ordered him bludgeoned to death and thrown into the common sewer. With an attitude of resignation and patient suffering consistent with his role as a Christian martyr, Sebastian is depicted enduring