Laurentius, Archdeacon of Rome, is placed on the glowing grate because he refused to hand over the church treasure to Emperor Valerian. A putto floats down from above to bring Laurentius a palm branch and a wreath as a sign of victory. A pagan priest points a finger up to convince Laurentius of the power of Jupiter, whose idol rises in the background to the left. On the left edge of the picture, soldiers watch the cruel execution. The painter was inspired for his work by a composition by Peter Paul Rubens depicting the martyrdom of St. Lawrence. In contrast to Rubens, he moved the event into the night to emphasize the lighting effects.