Photograph: Elke Estel / Hans Peter Klut,  © Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

Name of Object:

Der heilige Sebastian (engl. Saint Sebastian)


Dresden, Germany

Holding Museum:

Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery), Dresden State Art Collections


c. 1478

Type of object:



Antonello da Messina (1430, Messina-1479, Messina)

Museum Inventory Number:

Gal.-Nr. 52

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Oil on wood, transferred to canvas


H: 171cm, W: 85,5cm




Antonello da Messina set the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian in Venice, as is evident from the waterways in the background or from the typical chimneys. As one of the largest European trading cities, Venice was a key hub for the exchange of exotic luxury goods. The two carpets depicted here would also have come to the lagoon city via trading routes. According to information provided by Stefano Carboni (2015), these were carpets from the Ottoman Empire. They were highly sought after as decorative items throughout Europe. Antonello da Messina painted this picture for the first altar of the Brotherhood of Saint Roch in the Church of San Giuliano in Venice. With its extremely steep perspective, the lifelike rendering of the flesh and the three-dimensional modelling of the nude figure, this work is a tour de force of early Renaissance painting.

How date and origin were established:

Origin: Artist signature: “[Antone]ll[us] [m]essaneus”

Date: Research and documentary evidence

How Object was obtained:

This panel painting was purchased for Dresden in 1873 from the collection of Johann Christian Endris in Vienna.

How provenance was established:

Research and documentary evidence

Selected bibliography:

Henning, Andreas, “Il San Sebastiano di Antonello da Messina a Dresda. Iconografia e restauro”, in M. Lucco (ed), Antonello da Messina. L'opera completa, Milano: Silvana Editoriale, 2006: 75–89.
Henning, Andreas, and Ohlhoff, Günther (eds), Antonello da Messina-Der heilige Sebastian, Dresden: Michael Sandstein Verlag, 2005.
Marx, Harald (ed), Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, 2 vols, Köln: Buchhandlung Walther König, 2005/07: vol. 1 44f., vol. 2 91, gallery n. 52.
Skorupa, Thomas, Antonello da Messina and his workshop. The master's legacy, Berlin: Logos Verlag, 2015.

Citation of this web page:

Bettina Forger "Der heilige Sebastian (engl. Saint Sebastian)" in [Discover Carpet Art] , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019.;DCA;de;Mus34;3;en&id=paintings

Prepared by: Bettina Forger

MWNF Working Number: DE4_003