St. Sebastian with St. Irene

John Luke Kracker (1717–1779) | 1751 | oil on canvas, 173 × 121 cm | Signed in the lower part of the picture “Juan Krackher Inve” et Pinxit / 1751”
The work of the painter Jan Lukáš Kracker was influenced not only by his studies at the Vienna Academy and the work of the Viennese painters Paul Troger and Michelangelo Unterberger, but also by his subsequent training under Josef Tadeáš Rotter in the second half of the 1840s, when he stayed in Brno. He subsequently worked mainly for church clients. He excelled as a creator of frescoes, hangings and altarpieces. His works for the Jesuits in the Church of St. Nicholas in the Lesser Town in Prague, for the Premonstratensian monasteries in Jasov and in the New Kingdom, and a fresco with the theme of the Council of Trent on the vault of the library of the lyceum in Eger, Hungary, are well known. In a dynamic and light-dramatic composition, Kracker followed Sebastian’s rescue by the pious Christian woman St. Irene, after he had been sentenced to death for his Christian faith, to be executed by his comrades of the Praetorian Guard. None of the arrows shot, however, inflicted a mortal wound on the martyr. He met his death in the circus after publicly declaring his true faith before Emperor Diocletian. The armour in the lower right corner is a reminder of Sebastian’s military career. The angel descending from above, carrying a laurel wreath and a palm branch, predicts Sebastian’s destiny.