Venice in Peril


St SebastianTriptych (early 1460s)

Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430-1516)

St Sebastian Triptych Lunette


The St Sebastian Triptych is one of a set of four altarpieces Giovanni Bellini made for the Church of Santa Maria della Carità. The main panels feature St Sebastian, John the Baptist, and St Anthony Abbot against gold backgrounds, with depictions of the annunciation and God the Father in the lunette. The Carità Triptychs are of great significance as they are among the earliest works of Venice’s most celebrated early Renaissance painter, and are one of just two surviving coordinated altarpiece ensembles from quattrocento Venice.

The St Sebastian Triptych is usually considered the most accomplished of the four Carità Triptychs, which also number the Nativity Triptych (Learn More), recently conserved by Venice in Peril. Investigations and conservation work on that painting led to discoveries about the original construction and presentation of the triptychs, including the affirmation that they are most convincingly attributed to Giovanni Bellini, working as an independent master.

St Sebastian Triptych and detail

Although the Carità Triptychs were assigned to different patrons, they were always conceived as an ensemble for the church, where they were originally inserted along the marble wall of the barco, a hanging choir which was positioned in the nave, towards the east end. Following the deconsecration of the church in 1792, the barco was demolished and the altarpieces were separated, and for many decades they were displayed in different museums and subjected to different treatments.

Since the early 19th century, the Carità church building has functioned as part of the Accademia complex, and it is fitting that, once conserved, the four triptychs will be united there in a new permanent display on the development of the Venetian Renaissance altarpiece.

Older-fashioned example of a barco is pictured at the left of Carpaccio’s Vision of Prior Ottoboni.
Vision of Prior Ottoboni, Vittore Carpaccio, Paintings, Wikipedia Commons


The project will entail investigations using non-invasive methods to learn more about Bellini’s materials and techniques. Structural work will include the creation of a new support for the panels.

The restoration will be carried out by art conservator Dott.ssa Milena Dean, who has already completed the interventions on the Nativity and St Lawrence Triptychs. Her work on the St Sebastian Triptych will include removal of the old varnish, which is gradually pulling on the painted surfaces and lifting them, as well as cleaning and re-integrating damaged surface areas.

Bottom Panels from the St Sebastian Triptych


Giovanni Bellini
St Sebastian Triptych
early 1460s
Tempera-on-panel Altarpiece


Venice in Peril has committed to raise €75,000 for the conservation of Giovanni Bellini’s St Sebastian Triptych.