Henri Bellechose, The Martyrdom of St. Denis

Dijon, 1415-16
The Louvre

On the left Christ brings bread to St. Denis in prison, as recounted in the Golden Legend. On the right the executioner raises his cleaver to behead the saint. The red gash on the latter's neck seems to be an anticpatory image of the executioner's blow.

In the Golden Legend Denis had two companions on his mission to Paris, Rusticus and Eleutherius. One of them has already been beheaded, and his head and trunk lie on the ground. The other is on the right, awaiting his turn.

The center of the painting resembles the "Throne of Mercy" iconographic type, but without a dove. Its prominence in the composition expresses the unity between Denis's passion and Christ's.

Read more about St. Denis.

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