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Posted at 8:01 AM ET, 11/29/2010

Gopnik's Daily Pic: Ter Brugghen's "Saint Sebastian"

By Blake Gopnik

The latest feed from my morning musings about art and objects at

Hendrick ter Bruggen  1953.jpg
(Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College/Courtesy the Phillips Collection)

Hendrick ter Brugghen's "Saint Sebastian Tended by Irene," from the Oberlin College art gallery, painted in 1625 and now on view in the Phillips Collection's "Side by Side" show. Amazing how, despite all sorts of "realist" devices, ter Brugghen manages to lock his three figures into a highly artificial, jigsaw-puzzle composition on the surface of his canvas. They're also locked into a kind of gymnastic storyline, in 3D: You can imagine Sebastian rising in a slow clockwise twist, becoming first Irene, who tends him, and then the servant who unties him. It's an auto-resurrection worthy of Christ - and ideal for a saint whose job was to cure his worshipers of plague. (And who can resist the pink of Irene's nose, or her businesslike way of pulling out arrows?)

By Blake Gopnik  | November 29, 2010; 8:01 AM ET
Categories:  Museums  | Tags:  Daily Pic  
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