The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence

WAG 1995.70


The composition is similar to a reversed and adapted form of Palma Giovane's painting of around 1581-82 of the 'Martyrdom of St Lawrence', which is still in the north transept of the church of San Giacomo dell'Orio, Venice. Professor Bert Meijer has recently suggested that the drawing may be by Andrea Vicentino (?1542-?1617) who was particularly influenced by Palma Giovane's work after he settled in Venice in the mid 1570s. Vicentino also worked with Jacopo Tintoretto on the decoration of the ceilings of a number of rooms in the Doge's Palace and was considered especially skillful in the design of crowded compositions such as this scene of the 'Martyrdom of St Lawrence'. Saint Lawrence was executed in Rome in 258 CE. He was traditionally said to have been roasted to death on a gridiron having refused to hand over the Church's treasure to the Roman authorities. The saint's martyrdom was overseen by Emperor Valerian, who can be seen seated on a throne in the upper left corner of the drawing. Traditionally Lawrence is said to have called out to the Emperor 'Behold, wretch, thou hast well cooked one side! Turn the other and eat!'