The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence

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Tibaldi, The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, 1592

Saint Lawrence was a deacon in Rome and in charge of distributing alms to the poor provided by the church.  He then distributed the church's treasures, not just money but actual treasure, to the poor. The Prefect of Rome came to visit and wanted to see the treasures of the church, but when Lawrence brought forth the poor people holding the treasures, the Prefect ordered that he be killed over a fire, He is most well known for saying, "I'm well done, turn me over" and this made him the saint of cooks, chefs, and comedians. Now some people believe that the story is the result of mistranslated word, usually deacons, priests, and bishops were hanged.

The colors are bright and bold in the foreground and the dark background contrasts with the figure of St. Lawrence.  His pale skin and angle of the light puts him in a spotlight.  He almost seems to lounge on the bed of fire while all of the other figures bent and tensing in violent poses.  The painting has lots of action and anger, accentuated by the red glow from the fire, so that Lawrence's sublime expression becomes the center of focus. The fire glow both illuminates and creates more shadow to the figures around it.  Saint Lawrence is not touched by the red light or even the fire underneath him, which only sets him off from the rest of the painting.  

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