Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian (17th Century)

Viennese ivory sculptor

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The Captive Hercules, Carved Ivory, 8.1 x 20.7 in., 1655

The Captive Hercules, Carved Ivory, 8.1 x 20.7 in., 1655

 

 

The Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian is an anonymous Baroque artist from Vienna of whom there is little known. The artist is believed to have been a virtuoso ivory carver known for his two large multipart relief sculptures in Linz and Vienna, Austria, portraying the early Christian Saint, Sebastian, being shot by Roman bowmen. This master’s work is identified by its forceful and prominent movements, intense emotions, and excessive accentuation of anatomical features.

 

Hercules and Achelous, Carved Ivory, mid 17th century, 27.9 cm

Hercules and Achelous, Carved Ivory, mid 17th century, 27.9 cm

 

 

Hercules and Achelous is carved completely in the round and exhibits a struggle between two mythological figures. Hercules and Achelous are wrestling over the hand of Deianeira, the daughter of the king of Calydon. In this sculpture, Hercules is squeezing Achelous, a river god capable of morphing from man, to serpent, to bull.

 

 

Hercules Wrestling Achelous in the Form of a Bull, Ivory Bas Relief, mid 17th century

Hercules Wrestling Achelous in the Form of a Bull, Ivory Bas Relief, mid 17th century

 

 

Hercules Wrestling Achelous in the Form of a Bull, is a bas relief that is believed to originally have been part of the base for the Hercules and Achelous sculpture-in-the round (above image). In this relief, Hercules is twisting the horns of Achelous, who, in this case, has transformed into a bull.

 

 

Hercules and Achelous Pedestal Base, The Master of Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Boxwood with Ivory Veneer, mid 17th century

Hercules and Achelous Pedestal Base, The Master of Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Boxwood with Ivory Veneer, mid 17th century

 

 

The Bull’s eyes are peering skyward as its mouth gapes open and its body spirals in Hercules’ death grip. The myth is that Hercules could only conquer Achelous by breaking its horns. The base, which was veneered in ivory, was most likely made by a cabinetmaker, and not the artist.

 

Relief Figure of a Standing Male, The Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Ivory, 21 cm, 1657

Relief Figure of a Standing Male, The Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Ivory, 21 cm, 1657

 

 

This figure is believed to have been from a section of a multipart relief from Linz, Austria. The elaborately detailed flesh, the hanging muscles, and unrelenting, carved hair are hints to the sculpture’s creator, the Master of the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. The complete relief, located in the imperial gallery in Stallburg, Vienna, depicts St. Sebastian encircled by other Christian victims and Roman archers.

 

 

Kneeling Captive, Workshop of the Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Ivory, 10.8 cm, third quarter of 17th century, Vaduz, Collections of the Reigning Prince of Liechtenstein

Kneeling Captive, Workshop of the Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Ivory, 10.8 cm, third quarter of 17th century, Vaduz, Collections of the Reigning Prince of Liechtenstein

 

 

Other artists from the same circle as this master are Matthias Rauchmiller, V. Birke, The Monogrammist B.G, and the Swabian carver, C.M. Maucher.

 

 

The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, The Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian (Workshop), Ivory relief, 53 x 81 cm, 1657, Linz, Oberosterreichisches Landesmuseum

The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, The Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian (Workshop), Ivory relief, 53 x 81 cm, 1657, Linz, Oberosterreichisches Landesmuseum

 

 

Man Struggling with a Serpent, The Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Ivory Carving, 17th century

Man Struggling with a Serpent, The Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Ivory Carving, 17th century

 

 

The Judgement of Solomon, The Master of the Martyrdom of  St. Sebastian, Ivory Relief, 17th century

The Judgement of Solomon, The Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Ivory Relief, 17th century

 

 

The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Ivory Relief, 54 x 80 cm, 1655, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Master of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Ivory Relief, 54 x 80 cm, 1655, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

 

 



 

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