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Saint Sebastian with Saint Roch and Saint Demetrius
Ortolano
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This altarpiece is considered Ortolano’s masterpiece. In it he achieves effects of startling realism through his deep understanding of anatomy, optics and perspective. It was made for the church of S. Maria in Bondeno, a small town to the north-west of Ferrara.

Saints Sebastian (centre) and Roch (left), both invoked in times of plague, are accompanied by Saint Demetrius (right). Saint Demetrius is rare in Italian art – so rare he is identified here by a paper at his feet. He wears full plate armour, the reflections in its polished surface depicted with incredible skill. His gesture – thoughtfully resting his face on his hand – echoes Raphael’s Saint Paul in the Saint Cecilia Altarpiece (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna). However, Ortolano’s decision to cover Saint Demetrius' mouth is very unusual. The meticulously observed still life of objects in the foreground was certainly influenced by the musical instruments similarly placed on the stony ground in Raphael’s altarpiece.

Key facts
Artist Ortolano
Artist dates about 1487 - after 1527
Full title Saint Sebastian with Saint Roch and Saint Demetrius
Date made 1521-4
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Dimensions 230.4 x 154.9 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1861
Inventory number NG669
Location in Gallery Room 10
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