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Saint Sebastian Tended by Saint Irene and Her Maid

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About 1631-1636, the composition was created as a single canvas; probably by the end of the 17th century, it had been separated into two sections, MFA object nos. 1972.83 (lower section) and 2003.72 (upper section) [see note 1]. 1971, anonymous collection, Scotland; June 30, 1971, sale of anonymous collector, Sotheby's, London, lot 71, to S. Pollak for Hallsborough Gallery, London [see note 2]; 1972, sold by Hallsborough Gallery to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 8, 1972) NOTES: [1] The original composition was probably divided by the mid-17th century, and almost certainly by 1693. This is suggested by the existence of two paintings attributed to Strozzi's assistant, Ermanno Stroiffi (b. 1613 - d. 1693), which replicate the fragments now at the MFA. It has been determined that these two canvases (church of San Martino, Nespoledo, near Udine, 161 x 130 cm. and Museo Civico, Padua, 74 x 114 cm.) were never part of a single composition (Lucio Zambon, Conservator, oral communication, October 1, 2004), but were created separately, probably after the original by Strozzi had been divided. Strozzi's canvas, therefore, was most likely divided before Stroiffi's death in 1693, either by Strozzi himself or by an early owner of his work. A technical examination of the stretchers confirms that the canvas had been cut by the late 18th to mid-19th century. [2] F. Schrecker, director of the Hallsborough Gallery, contacted Sotheby's about the provenance of the picture at the time it was acquired. In a letter to Perry T. Rathbone of the MFA (October 11, 1971; in MFA curatorial file), Schrecker wrote that Sotheby's "assured us that it came directly from a private collection in Scotland. Unfortunately, however, this previous owner, for personal reasons, is unwilling to disclose his name." Ellis Waterhouse wrote to Perry T. Rathbone (March 14, 1972), "I rather think, but cannot check this, that I saw it in Edinburgh about twenty years ago, rather fleetingly, and was told it belonged to some Roman Catholic establishment." Attempts to verify this have not yet been successful.

Credit Line

Charles Potter Kling Fund and Francis Welch Fund

about 1631–6


166.7 x 118.7 cm (65 5/8 x 46 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas