Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Wolfgang Stechow


Saint Sebastian, Icon, Irene, Martyrdom, Art, History, Saints in art


The artists of the Baroque, rejecting the traditional conception of Sebastian, portray the formerly invincible saint as wounded, suffering, no longer victoriously partaking of the fruits of his glorious martyrdom, but being found and cared for by Irene, the widow of the Christian martyr Castulus.

Such a change in iconography involves both a shift of the outward and visible as well as the intrinsic content of the pictorial matter. the significance of this thematic revolution has often been overlooked because it parallels the stylistic developments of the age, which, until recently, have captured more fully the imagination of art historians. Therefore, it is the purpose of this paper to deal specifically with this iconographic change which involves the portrayal of the moment when the saint is found and cared for by Irene.