Eric Gill
St Sebastian 1920

Artwork details

Eric Gill 1882–1940
St Sebastian
Date 1920
Medium Hoptonwood stone
Dimensions Object: 1005 x 202 x 247 mm, 55.6 kg
Acquisition Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983
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 Marc-André Raffalovich, a friend of Oscar Wilde. 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 might seem a fitting symbol for the more recent martyrdom of the war dead.

September 2016

About this artwork