By Anne Leader

On 6 November 1531, the painter Il Sodoma received a 10-ducat bonus for a double-sided banner painted for the Compagnia di San Sebastiano in Camollia near Siena. His original contract of 3 May 1525 was to paint two sides of a canvas banner for 20 gold ducats, but the confraternity members were so pleased with the results that they gave him a 50% raise. One side shows honors the company’s patron saint, showing him tied to a tree and shot full of arrows. Sebastian did not die from these wounds, however, and his miraculous recovery led to his adoption as patron saint of plague.

The other side of the banner depicts The Virgin and Child in Glory adored by Sts. Roch and Sigismund and members of the Confraternity of St. Sebastian. St. Roch was also called upon during times of disease and illness. The confraternity resisted offers to buy the banners over the years, including some Lucchese merchants who offered 300 gold scudi, but they eventually were forced to relinquish the painting to Medici Grand Duke Leopold, who gave them 200 zecchini for it in 1786.

St. Sebastian, 1525, Florence: Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti)

Reference: Enzo Carli. “Sodoma.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press..

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