Foligno and Assisi, from 1474 to 1527

Saint Sebastian

oil on panel, cm 78×25

inscription on reverse: “L O [Lattanzio Opus?]”


Most likely this panel was originally a moveable door on a triptych as it has been painted on both sides. The front of the panel has a representation of Saint Sebastian tied to a tree, his elegantly posed body pierced with arrows. On the reverse is an elegant and imaginative monochrome decoration on a cinnabar red background clearly inspired by ancient wall decorations in fashion when this work was painted. The circular element in the form of a geared wheel is particularly interesting as it is an exercise in perspective that is not strictly of Roman origin but, instead, is similar to earlier central Italian works, for example from the region of Urbino and the school of Piero della Francesca.

Studies of this work both by Alessandro Delpriori and Mauro Minardi came to the same conclusion; that the work was done by Lattanzio, son of the most important painter in Foligno during the second half of the 15th century Niccolò di Liberatore called ‘L’Alunno’ (the pupil). Lattanzio, Delpriori reminds us, “for a certain period was the true alter ego of his father” from whom he inherited the workshop. His work “is documented between 1474 […] and 1523 when he signs and dates his Annunciation, previously in the Foligno Art Museum” and now lost.

Delpriori also reminds us for comparison purposes of two other paintings done by Lattanzio; the Madonna del Soccorso in Castel Ritaldi dated 1509 and the Saint Michael Archangel at the Palazzo Trinci in Foligno, Saint Michael’s face “still reminiscent of the paternal style, has the same detail of the illuminated nose as our holy martyr.”

As to the dating of our work, Delpriori opts for a placement towards the end of the artist’s career, putting its completion somewhere between 1525 and 1530. Minardi, on the other hand, who sees a strong tie to Niccolò’s fathers works, places the work earlier “around 1510 to 1515”, finding analogies in the figurative verse with “innovations introduced by Pintoricchio in Spello” at the beginning of the 16th century.