Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto
The Martyrdom of St. Stephen the Protomartyr

Church of San Giorgio Magiore, Venice, Italy

The painting collapses two successive moments in Stephen's passion (Acts 6:8 - 7:60). The first is the conclusion of his discourse before the Sanhedrin, when he says, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God" (7:55). At those words the mob rushes at him, drags him outside the city, and stones him to death.

A young man named Saul keeps watch over their cloaks. In the painting he sits just above and to the left of Stephen, in a white headpiece. This is the Saul who will convert to the new faith on the road to Damascus.

The figure of Stephen is given several of the attributes seen in his portraits. A beardless young man, he has on the dalmatic worn by medieval deacons. He holds a palm branch in his left arm, and at his right foot is his book, a fitting symbol of the discourse on scripture that he presented to the Sanhedrin.

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Read more about images of St. Stephen and St. Paul.

Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.