The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste: Black Roman Soldiers in Eastern Europe

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Novgorod School
The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
15th century
Novgorod School

This painting depicts the forty Roman soldiers who were martyred for their Christian beliefs in the fourth century by being forced to stand barefoot in a freezing lake. One of the soldiers recanted and entered a shelter on the lakeshore. A tormentor, impressed with the faith of the remaining thirty-nine, removed his clothing and joined the martyrs. Above the figures hover Christ and the crowns of martyrdom.

Provenance:
The de Wijenburgh collection, Netherlands
Temple Gallery, London
Acquired by the Putnam Foundation, 1979


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