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  • Place of origin:

    Italy (central, made)
    Pesaro (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted and glazed earthenware

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62A, Discover the Renaissance World, case 4

This painted panel would have provided a focus for prayer and devotion. The Virgin Mary and infant Christ occupy the centre of the composition. The figure clad in a loin cloth and shot with arrows is St Sebastian. The other figure is St Roch. St Roch caught the plague and was reputed to have miraculously cured other sufferers. St Sebastian was also a popular figure for those seeking protection against disease, partly because of his courage in facing torment and suffering before his eventual death.

Physical description

Painted in blue, orange, yellow and copper green with slight touches of manganese purple. The Virgin and Child enthroned between St Sebastian and St Roch under a vaulted baldacchino supported by square columns on a chequer pavement, in an open landscape with distant mountains. The composition is enclosed by borders with palmettes on an orange ground.

Place of Origin

Italy (central, made)
Pesaro (probably, made)


ca. 1500 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted and glazed earthenware


Height: 41.0 cm, Width: 39.8 cm, Weight: 4.61 kg

Object history note

Part of the Robinson Collection.

Historical context note

St Roch (circa 1350-1380) was born into a rich merchant family but became a hermit. He spent much of his life on pilgrimages, and here he is depicted with a staff. Whilst in Piacenza he caught the plaque and was fed by a dog. The dog is sometimes used as one of his attributes, but it is missing from this representation. St Roch was reputed to have miraculously cured plaque sufferers.

St Sebastian was believed to have been a Roman martyr who suffered persecution during the reign of the emperor Diocletian. Sebastian was believed to have been a soldier who became captain of Diocletian's praetorian guard, without Diocletian realising that he was a Christian. Sebastian helped other Christian martyrs, for which Diocletian ordered him to be shot to death with arrows. Sebastian recovered, confronted the Emperor for his cruelty, and was then beaten to death with clubs. The representation of St Sebastian clad only in a loin cloth, bound and pierced with arrows became popular in the fifteenth century. St Sebastian was the patron of archers, but also had a widespread patronage against the plague, partly due to Sebastian's courage in facing torment and suffering.

Descriptive line

Ceramic panel featuring the Virgin and Child between Saint Sebastian and Saint Roch

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bernard Rackham, Catalogue of Italian Maiolica Volume I (London, HMSO 1977), Cat. No. 156 VA.1977.0006
Bernard Rackham, Catalogue of Italian Maiolica Volume II (London, HMSO 1977), Plate 28

Labels and date

Label transcribed 16-10-2006:

Panel, earthenware
The Virgin and Child between Saint Sebastian and Saint Roch
Central Italy, probably Pesaro; about 1500-1510
Cat no. 156
196-1879 []

Production Note

Probably Pesaro








Ceramics Collection

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