Florentine School The son of Jacopo Benci, a poulterer, and elder brother of Pietro, a far inferior painter, but who seems to have worked with Antonio. “His workshop was the most popular in Florence, and he the most renowned draughtsman of his day.” (Vasari.)
LONDON, NATIONAL GALLERY
THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. SEBASTIAN High up on a tree trunk, his upturned face reaching the top of the canvas, the martyr stands with his hands bound behind him, his feet on the stumps of lopped boughs. He is clad only in a loin cloth. In the foreground is a row of four archers, and beyond the tree on either side one more. The two in the centre have cross-bows, and are stooping in the act of winding them up, the one on our left having his back to us. The other four are in the act of shooting up at the saint. The background is an expanse of landscape, with a rider in the centre.
Painted in 1475 for the chapel of the Pucci family in the Church of SS. Annunziata in Florence.
Purchased from the Marchese Pucci in 1857.
DAVID A small whole-length figure facing us, slightly turned to right, standing in a plain niche, with the head of Goliath between the feet. He is bareheaded, with thick long hair parted in the middle, and wears a dark gown lined with white fur reaching below the knees, but looped up in front through a girdle, showing bare legs and short trunk. The left hand is at the girdle, the right hanging down.