The Martyrdom of St. Erasmus, 1628
French, 1594 - 1665
oil on canvas
100 x 74 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 16992)
According to the third-century legend, Erasmus, Bishop of Formia, was disembowelled by his executioners, who then wound his entrails on a windlass. Poussin chose the crucial moment of his martyrdom, as Erasmus rejects the pagan image offered by a white-robed Roman priest. Angels descend with the palm branch and laurel crown, symbols of his spiritual triumph. The composition sustains the drama with its forceful diagonals, rich colours, and strong light effects. This work is a finished oil sketch, or "modello", for a much larger altarpiece that was commissioned for St. Peter's during the papacy of Urban VIII.
More from Nicolas PoussinLandscape with a Woman Washing her Feet
116.5 x 174.7 cm