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Martyrdom of Saints Processus and Martinian
Valentin de Boulogne French
Not on view
Two former soldiers are put on the rack for having been converted to Christianity by Saints Peter and Paul. The figure at the upper right is their commander, blinded in one eye by God after he urged the soldiers to offer a sacrifice to Jupiter. A hooded Christian woman, Lucina, encourages them to be steadfast; and an angel literally tumbles out of heaven with a palm of martyrdom. Painted for Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, this is Valentin’s most prestigious commission. Together with an altarpiece by his compatriot Nicolas Poussin, it became the focus of a debate about the virtues of an idealist as opposed to a realist style. We are told that connoisseurs judged them equal. In this work, Valentin succeeds in giving a realist style the authority of Renaissance and classical art.