Painted in Verona after Liberale’s return from Siena in 1480, this saint is from the same altar as a Blessed Filippo Benizzi, a member of the Servite Order, and is thus from a Servite church. Liberale’s Sebastian was inspired by works he could have seen in Verona or nearby Mantua, especially those by Andrea Mantegna. That artist’s Saint Sebastian—also created around 1480 and now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris—depicts the saint in front of ancient ruins, as if to acknowledge an attempt to revive the nude figures of antiquity. Although Liberale substitutes a dead tree to which Sebastian is tied, the cherub supporting clouds that envelop his legs, and the head of God the Father overhead, several elements borrow the vocabulary of Mantenga: the saint’s monumental presence, emphatically delineated muscles, and wiry curls of hair.
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