In 1491, after the death of seven monks from the monastery of Sant Jeroni de la Murtra due to a plague epidemic, the community erected a chapel dedicated to Saint Sebastian, a protector against the plague in particular and the epidemics in general.
An altarpiece also dedicated to this saint was commissioned for the same dates. We don’t know what the side panels looked like – they most likely burned in the fire that hit the monastery in 1835 – but, thanks to old photographs, we do know what the central street and the predella were like or bottom part of the altarpiece.
The predella has been part of the Museum’s collections since the late 1960s, but the central panel had been considered lost until 2019, when it was located in the Fira d’Art Antic i Modern de Barcelona where it had been put it up for sale. This fact was of enormous importance: a piece was recovered from which nothing had been known for a long time and the possibility of buying it was opened up.
The best option, without a doubt, was for it to be acquired by the Museum of Badalona, as has been done. On the one hand, because the Museum already had the predella, and so we could see together again two pieces that were part of the same work and that separated more than sixty years ago. And on the other hand, because the Museum is a public institution that, due to its own function, will take care of the conservation and dissemination of the piece, and will not sell or destroy it.
One last note: it is a very curious fact that the altarpiece of Saint Sebastian, which has its origins in an epidemic, arrives at the Museum just when we are suffering from the Covid’19 pandemic. An anecdote worth remembering.