Saint Eramus

This painting depicts the martyrdom of St Erasmus, third century bishop of Formiae in Campania (Italy). According to legend, Erasmus was persecuted and martyred under the Emperor Diocletian (284-305), portrayed as the crowned figure in this painting. Influences by later myths, the painting shows Erasmus disembowelled with a windlass – the windlass is a reference to a story of Erasmus, in the guise of St Elmo, preaching undeterred throughout a raging storm. Erasmus is said to be the patron saint of sailors and stomach ailments. And was also adopted by clothmakers (as depictions of the windlass sometimes resemble a spindle).

Artist / Maker
Unknown Netherlandish Artist
Inscribed 1474
Kerrich Bequest, 1828
Oil on oak panel
Burlington House