The Virgin and Child with SS. Roch and Sebastian, c. 1521-1524
Italian, 1480 - 1556
oil on canvas
81.8 x 108.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 18620)
Both saints were invoked for protection against the plague: St. Roch, pointing to the plague sore on his thigh and identified by his pilgrim's staff, cloak, and hat, and St. Sebastian, with the arrow that recalls his suffering at the hands of Roman archers. This devotional painting was commissioned by a surgeon, for whom the subject would have had special significance in a period of devastating epidemics.
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57.8 x 46.5 cm