Collection Online

Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence

oil on canvas
206.2 × 154.5 cm irreg. (image) 207.5 × 155.2 cm (canvas)
Place/s of Execution
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by Allan and Maria Myers and Andrew Sisson, 2006
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
17th to 18th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Jusepe de Ribera is a Spanish-born painter and printmaker who spent his entire artistic career in Italy. He is one of the most important figures in European painting during the seventeenth century. He was the leading painter in Naples and was influential on many Neapolitan artists including Mattia Preti, Salvator Rosa, Luca Giordano and Bernardo Cavallino, all of whom are represented in the National Gallery of Victoria.

The Martyrdom of St Lawrence is a seminal autograph work by Ribera from the early to mid-1620s. It is distinguished by Ribera’s vigorous execution and startling naturalism. It was possibly commissioned to decorate the high altar of the Church of San Lorenzo in Lucina, Rome. The martyrdom of St Lawrence took place in Rome under the persecution of Emperor Valerian on 10 August 258. According to traditional accounts, St Lawrence was martyred by being roasted alive on a gridiron. This followed considerable beating and torture. Ribera depicts the moment when St Lawrence has clearly accepted his fate.