Saint Sebastian

Southern Germany, 1689
Fruitwood, height/figure: 33.5 cm

Ancient nobility

Long tradition

Marquard and Claus

The Schenk von Stauffenbergs are an old, aristocratic, Catholic family from Swabia that was first mentioned in 1262. Apart from the prince-bishop Marquard, the colonel Claus Schenk Graf (Count) Stauffenberg, in particular, is well-known. He was one of the principle figures in the planned assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944. ‘Operation Valkyrie’ was the code-name of a plan that had originally been drafted by the German Wehrmacht (armed forces) to supress insurgence directed against the Nazi regime. As we know, this conspiracy failed. Following a show trial at the Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court) 110 people involved in the attempted putsch were executed and their families held guilty by association.


The engaged and the free leg

Introduced by Polykleitos

The Italian term contrapposto, meaning ‘counterpoise’, is an important compositional device used in sculpture. It results from the combination of the ‘engaged’ leg that carries the weight of the body and the relaxed or ‘free’ leg that is slightly angled at the knee. The famous sculptor of Classical Antiquity, Polykleitos, is reputed to have introduced the contrapposto style to art. Medieval sculptors on the other hand seldom used this device. It was not until the Renaissance that this poise, based on models from Ancient Greece and Rome, came back into fashion and was also adopted in painting.

The material wood

Popular fruit trees

A thing well done takes time

Precious ivory was the material of choice for small sculptures made for the courts of rulers. As an alternative fruitwood was used for carvings in additon to more seldom, very hard boxwood. This hard-wearing and readily available material was chosen by the unknown artist of our figure of St Sebastian. Very homogenous in colour and structure, of medium hardness and with a high surface density, fruitwood also has a very delicate texture. Like many types of wood fruitwood also requires a long drying period to keep the risk of splitting as low as possible. The dried wood retains its shape well, as our beautiful St Sebastian – that is not spoilt by cracks of any sort –  shows.