The group depicting the martyrdom of St. Sebastian rests on an oval gilded copper base with onion feet, richly decorated with coral leaves and garlands of flowers applied with the "sewing" technique involving the use of metal thread and small pins. The figure of the Saint, carved in coral and pierced by an arrow in gilded foil, is bound to a tree with a gilded copper trunk, silver leaves and gilded copper and coral flowers. On the tree, a small coral angel with gilded foil wings holds a martyr's crown. The coral soldiers on either side of the tree and at the Saint's feet, and the coral helmet and breastplate, serve to remind us that the Saint was a Roman soldier martyred for upholding the Christian faith.
Depictions of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian by craftsmen working in Trapani are to be found both in private collections and in the collections of several museums including the Museo degli Argenti in Florence, where the figure of the Saint is carved in ivory.
Reference bibliography: M.C. Di Natale, ed., Materiali preziosi dalla terra e dal mare nell'arte trapanese e della Sicilia occidentale tra il XVIII e il XIX secolo, exhibition catalogue (Trapani, Museo Regionale "A. Pepoli", 15 February – 30 September 2003), Palermo 2003; M.C. Di Natale, G. Cornini, U. Utro, ed., Sicilia ritrovata. Arti decorative dai Musei Vaticani e dalla Santa Casa di Loreto, exhibition catalogue (Monreale, Museo Diocesano, 7 June – 7 September 2012), Palermo 2012; S. Intorre, Coralli trapanesi nella collezione March, in "OADI Digitalia Rara - Rivista dell'Osservatorio per le Arti Decorative in Italia", n. 5, 2016; J. Kriegseisen, Avorio e corallo. La statua di San Sebastiano del convento dei gesuiti a Swieta Lipka (Polonia) in "OADI - Rivista dell'Osservatorio per le Arti Decorative in Italia", n. 8, December 2013; L. Torretta, Nello studiolo di Koelliker, in "Il Sole-24 Ore", 30 November 2008; P. Virga, S. Sebastiano: iconografia e arte in Sicilia, Palermo 1993.