Giovanni Baglione, St. Sebastian Healed by an Angel

Baglione’s painting, Saint Sebastian healed by an angel, is an affectionate image of an angel consciously taking out an arrow from Saint Sebastian’s side. This image indicates the new emphasis that was placed on compassion and succor in the period of post-tridentate by Oratorians and other religious guidelines. The idea of an angel nursing a saint’s wound is rare; however, it certainly reflects devotional writing that narrated how Christ sent angels to untie and cure Sebastian’s wounds. Additionally, the angel may be linked to contemporary cults of guardian angels who are thought to take the superficial appearance of young boys. Baglione simply adopted superficial features, such as raking fleshy and light, bold and full-lipped faces in his painting.

Baglione’s painting, Saint Sebastian healed by an angel is an oil canvas painting, which is hand-painted. The size of this painting is 96 by 76 centimeters. The painting is proportional and harmonic in its balancing of the poses of figures and presence of high formal quality in its elements, especially on the faces of Saint Sebastian and the angel. Bodies in the painting occupy the available space with great freedom, as figures interact deeply in their feeling. The rectangular frame completes its composition harmoniously. The composition of the painting is essential and simple whereby the affectionate image of an angel consciously taking out an arrow from Saint Sebastian’s side provides signs of life.

Saint Sebastian is mostly represented in literature and art as person been shot using arrows, and Giovanni Baglione’s painting concerning the martyr is not very different. At glance, one sees the frail body and limps of Saint Sebastian, and when one follows his body across the diagonal the work of art that one’s eyes meet is a young angel nursing the arrow wound that is on the lower abdomen. The arrow connects the angel and Saint Sebastian that the angel is lightly removing from Sebastian’s abdomen using her left hand. Jointly, these two figures create a letter ‘v’ that helps direct one’s eyes through this painting. This ‘v’ shape commands one’s attention to both figures alone. Intentions of Baglione in this painting are clear and everything from the shadows to the relative placements of the bodies within the illustration draws the attention of the viewer back to the healing of Saint Sebastian.

The main apparent technique that Baglione uses in this painting in order to draw attention to the viewer about essential parts of his work is through the use of lighting and shadows. Facial expressions of the two figures, the wound together with the helping hand of the angel are brought to the light in the help of visual rendering saint Sebastian’s healing. On the contrary, points of the portrait that are finer are kept aside in the shadows. Fine points such as the angel’s wing and the bound right arm of Saint Sebastian are hidden with the use of poor lighting. This implies that although, these parts play important part in the painting, they are not vital to the picture represented.

Besides the difference between the lighted areas and the darker areas of the picture, one can see the difference in the different colors used. Baglione pays most attention to the angel and Saint Sebastian with bright and intense colors, mainly when evaluated to the background that is less colorful. Even though color focuses on different areas of this canvas, it also helps communicate something important and deeper regarding these figures. The angel reveals a rosy glow whereas the injured Saint is guzzled by whitish pallor. The color of the Saint Sebastian communicates the weakness he has; however, the glowing angel at his side brings recovery and life to this portrait.

When one ignores everything excluding these two figures, one understands the atmosphere in the portrait. Fragility of Saint Sebastian is clear in his almost lifeless body. The slight tilt of the saint’s head and the slight opening of his eyes help the portrait not to be mistaken as dead. When one focuses more at his eyes, one sees that the saint looks at the angel on his side. The look of the angel is focused on the wound where she is removing the arrow. One can see her grasp of the arrow is tender.  Following the angel’s gentle touch is the tranquility look on her face, the angel has no pressure of healing the saint since one sees that she has other several arrows she may have taken out from the wound; though, there lacks evidence of further injuries caused by these arrows she holds. This indicates the power and the ability to cure the saint, which explains the tranquility of picture portrayed.

The visual rendition of Giovanni Baglione’s canvas of the healing of the saint was evidently well considered prior to making the portrait. The placing of figures and colors in the painting are original to draw any viewer. However, the little amounts of details also complete the circumstances in the portrait, with the barely opening of the saint’s eye to the grip light of the angel to the arrow; one sees that there is hope for the saint. This portrait communicates an assurance of life restored to the saint by the angel, which implies that he owes the angel.

 In conclusion, it is evident that Baglione painting is impressive. It is one of the paintings that many people admire. It makes people appreciate painting made by many artists, which helps encourage many artists. Hence, this makes them come up with excellent work.

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