Monday, June 13, 2011

St. Anthony’s Image and When It Got That Way

Willem van Herp the Elder, Saint Anthony Distributing Bread
Flemish, c.1662
London, National Gallery
Happy Feast of St. Anthony! After completing the article of yesterday regarding the Miracle of the Mule, I became intrigued to find out when it was that the popular image of St. Anthony, the one with the Infant Jesus, began to drive out the other possible images of the saint.

From a somewhat cursory review of the iconography of St. Anthony, it appears that up till about 1600 the iconography of St. Anthony was quite varied.









The earliest images showed a very serious St. Anthony, sometimes in company with St. Francis, as would be appropriate for an early Franciscan saint.


St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua
from Livre d'images de Madame Marie
Belgian (Hainaut), 1285-1290
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition francaise 16251, fol. 94v

Simone Martini, St.  Anthony of Padua and St. Francis of Assisi
Italian, 1317
Assisi, Basilica of  San Francesco




























Sometimes he is seen alone or with various donors.


Saint Anthony of Padua Serenaded by Angels
from Heures de Louis de Savoie
French (Savoy), 1445-1460
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 9473, fol. 171v

Benozzo Gozzoli, St. Anthony of
Padua with Angels and Donors
Italian, 1450s
Rome, S. Maria in Aracoeli


























Vincenzo Foppa, Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, c.1495-1500
Washington, National Gallery of Art


Bernardo Zanale, Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, 1502-1507
Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli


























Almost always he is carrying a book, an obvious reference to his acclaimed knowledge of the Bible and to his own writings. Sometimes he also carries a burning flame, probably symbolic of his preaching ministry.

From the 15th century he also appears in the genre known as the Sacra Conversazione,  the Madonna and Child shown in company with several saints. This appears to be the period when the lily first appears in addition to the book. The lily is a traditional symbol of purity. 

Titian, Madonna and Child with St. Anthony of Padua and St. Roch
Italian, c. 1508
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
It is at the end of the fifteenth century that I have first found the iconography of St. Anthony with the Christ Child beginning to appear. The image recalls an apparition of the Christ Child to St. Anthony that may or may not be a legend and which is claimed to have taken place in France (though there is also an Italian location that claims it). One night, a bright light was observed in St. Anthony’s room in a house where he was staying. The householder went to investigate this unusual occurrence and saw St. Anthony holding the Divine Child (from whom the light was emanating) in his arms.

Workshop of Juan de Carrion, Saint Anthony of Padua
from  Hours of Infante Don Alfonso of Castille
Spanish (Burgos), c. 1465-1480
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 854, fol. 196r

Gerard David &Worksshop, Saint Anthony of Padua
from the St. Anne Altarpiece
Dutch, c. 1500-1520
Washington, National Gallery of Art
Gerard David, Saint Anthony of Padua with a Nun
Dutch, c. 1500
London, Victoria and Albert Museum





























Master of Don Alvaro de Luna
Saint Anthony of Padua with a Donor
Spanish, c. 1501-1515
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado


Simon Bening, Saint Anthony of Padua
from a Book of Hours
Flemish (Bruges), 1531
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M451, fol.122v




























Although other aspects of Saint Anthony's life did appear occasionally, this image of the saint with the infant Jesus became the dominant image, especially in Spain.

El Greco, Saint Anthony of Padua
Greco-Spanish, c.1580
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Attributed to Pedro de Obregon the Younger
Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, 17th Century
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado











Francisco de Zurbaran, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, 1635-1650
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
Gaspard de Crayer, Saint Anthony of Padua
Flemish, 1655
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado


Antonio de Pereda, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, Second half of the 17th Century
Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts

lonso Cano, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, c. 1660
from the Capilla de Santa Maria de Jesus, Alcala de Heneres
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
Francisco de Herrera el Mozo, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, c. 1650-1685
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado




























Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, 1668
Seville, Museo de Bellas Artes

Claudio Coello, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, Second Half of 17th Century
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado


























This became by far the most widely known image of St. Anthony from the seventeenth century to our own day. Over time, the details of the event (the room, the light) were replaced by a simplified image of St. Anthony standing, holding the lily, the book and the Holy Child.

Giuseppe Bazzani, Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, 1740-1750
London, National Gallery
Johann Jakob Zeiller, St. Anthony of Padua
Austrian, c.1762
Ottobeuren, Monastery Church of
Saints Theodore and Alexander













Giambattista Tiepolo, Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, 1767-1769
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres,
Saint Anthony of Padua
French, c. 1825-1850
Paris, Musee du Louvre
























© M. Duffy, 2011, updated 2017