Saint Sebastian, Early Martyr, 19th Century Santos from Central or South America, Religious Art
This is a 12″ tall carved wood depiction of Saint Sebastian. It was produced in Central or South America in the 19th century.
This is a 12″ tall carved wood depiction of Saint Sebastian. It was produced in Central or South America in the 19th century. The saint is in his traditional pose, tied to a tree and with arrows embedded in his flesh. His eyes are made of glass.
Condition: At some point in the 20th century this piece was repainted. There are a number of chips, cracks and small losses. The “ropes” tying him do not appear particularly old.
Comments: Santos carvings of St. Sebastian, while fairly uncommon, are quite popular due to the striking imagery and his personal story. He is sometimes known as the saint that was martyred twice as he managed to survive the ordeal depicted in this image. He was later clubbed to death by agents of the Emperor Diocletian. He is called upon for intercession by scholars, athletes, soldiers and those seeking reprieve from serious pestilence. He is credited with saving Rome from an outbreak of plaque in 680 AD.
This carving has two points that interest me apart from the fine work of the artist. First, the tree is painted green; this color often representing everlasting life in central and south American traditional art. Secondly, our ancient and anonymous artist has depicted the saint’s body in a shape that he would recognize among his neighbors; a bit stockier and shorter than one would have seen at the time in a European man. Contrast this piece with a second St. Sebastian carving that I will be listing. That one was carved on the European Continent; the tree is brown and Sebastian is carved with European features.
One interesting method of collecting santos figures lies in obtaining figures of the same subject from different geographical areas and times.
Whatever the culture, there can be no more important art than that used as an aid for communicating with the divine. I have always found devotional artifacts fascinating to collect; there is no better way to connect with a past culture than through the objects that were important to it. Collecting santos figures is particularly gratifying. The subject, the style and the methods of production combine to tell the tale of what the individuals in that culture valued.
I have been collecting artifacts and religious objects for many years, specializing in Asian and European vintage carvings. Don’t hesitate to ask about other stock that I might have that is not listed here.
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