Christ at the Column and St. Sebastian
Sculptor of 18th century
18th century, Papier-mâché
These two wood-effect painted papier-mâché statuettes represent Christ at the Column and St. Sebastian the Martyr. Christ is depicted with his hands crossed and tied with a rope to a low column and wears the linteus as his only garment. St. Sebastian has his left wrist raised above his head and his right forearm tied to a tree trunk behind his back: his body assumes a loose and sinuous position, as if about to collapse in on itself. Here too, only the linteus partly covers the martyr, who has several arrows protruding from his body and many wounds caused by them. His face is turned skyward, imploring salvation from martyrdom, which did happen, although briefly. (St. Sebastian was saved from the wounds of the arrows, only to appear again before the Emperor Diocletian. He was then beaten to death after proclaiming his faith). Papier-mâché was most popular between the 17th and 18th centuries: the development of Baroque art following the Counter Reformation, which led to the proliferation of confraternities and the founding of numerous religious orders, was responsible for much of the artistic production in papier-mâché. Great masterpieces were produced using this technique, especially in Salento, Naples, and Sicily.