Eric Gill St Sebastian 1920

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Artwork details

Artist
Eric Gill 1882–1940
Title
St Sebastian
Date 1920
Medium Hoptonwood stone
Dimensions Object: 1005 x 202 x 247 mm, 55.6 kg
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983
Reference
T03745
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1910

Display caption

St Sebastian miraculously survived the arrows intended to kill him as punishment for his Christian faith. He had long been a favourite vehicle for the depiction of the male nude. This work was commissioned from Gill, who was a Roman Catholic, by a friend of Oscar Wilde named Marc-André Raffalovich. Though Gill does not include the arrows, thus emphasising the relaxed sensuality of the saint's languid pose, the sculpture also recalls a memorial monument. Heroic nudes were common on war memorials of the 1920s and the theme of St Sebastian seemed a fitting symbol for the more recent martyrdom of the war-dead.

August 2004

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