Christian Martyr, 1853


Christian Martyr Drowned in the Tiber During the Reign of Diocletian by Hippolyte (Paul) Delaroche, 1853

The idea for this painting came to Delaroche during a time of severe illness. The subject deals with the terrible persecution suffered by Christians during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305). The effective contrast of the crimson sunset and the cold greenish-blue tones of the water, with its reflections of that mystical light which illuminates the face of the martyr thrown into the Tiber with her hands tied, gives the painting a very Romantic feel. A contemporary of Delaroche, the writer Théophile Gautier, poetically described this image as that of the “Christian Ophelia” and was particularly admiring of the face of “virginal purity and divine beauty”.

source: Hermitage Museum

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