Antonio Pirri - inv. 1550
Saint Sebastian is shown half length and almost frontally. His face is turned to the spectator, while his body is slightly twisted away. Two arrows pierce his body: the left bears the Bolognese artist’s signature, known only through a document dated 1511.
The Poldi Pezzoli Museum has another work by Pirri, The Visitation (inv. 354), where the painter’s signature is definitely authentic, unlike the one on this Saint Sebastian. The bad condition of this panel, the rather crude letters of the inscription and the incorrect passage of the arrow piercing the saint’s right shoulder and re-emerging in a most unlikely spot on his chest negate any certain attribution of this painting. An earlier example of a signature on the arrow can be found in Perugino’s Saint Sebastian (c. 1494–1495), now in the Hermitage in St Petersburg. However, the classic and serene pose of the saint, veiled by shades of melancholy and suffering, seem closer to the style of Lorenzo Costa at the beginning of his Mantua years, in about 1505–1510 and Emilian painting of the early 16th century.