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Journal Article

As Time Goes By: Temporal Plurality and the Antique in Andrea Mantegna's "Saint Sebastian" and Giovanni Bellini's "Blood of the Redeemer"

Beverly Louise Brown
Artibus et Historiae
Vol. 34, No. 67, Papers dedicated to Peter Humfrey: part I (2013), pp. 21-48
Published by: IRSA s.c.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23510241
Page Count: 28

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Topics: Renaissance art, Art museums, Altars, Blood, Tabernacles, Humanism, Images, Sarcophagi, Bronzes, Sadness
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Abstract

Mantegna's Vienna Saint Sebastian and Giovanni Bellini's Blood of the Redeemer are small devotional panels in which the pagan past is used as a reminder of the Christian present. Saint Sebastian is likely to have been painted for Jacopo Antonio Marcello, a prominent Venetian humanist, while Bellini's panel must have been commissioned by someone with close ties to the secular cannons of San Giorgio in Alga, who believed that mediation was fundamental for the renewal of Christian life and symbolized this by establishing new chapters in abandoned monastic buildings. Although the classical remains in Mantegna's picture are all'antica inventions, they seem archeologically 'correct'. Bellini, on the other hand, inflated the micro-sculpture of coins and gems into monumental presences. Both artists used classical ruins as signposts in the progression of time, pointing the way towards the ascendance of Christianity. Christ (or his surrogate Saint Sebastian) stands mid-way between the barrier of pagan fragments and the sun-drenched landscape of eternal salvation. In order to leave one temporal sphere and pass into the other, the viewer must contemplate the true mystery of the Eucharist.

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