Thursday, June 13, 2013

St Anthony of Padua

To mark the Feast Day here are paintings of Anthony of Padua by Sir Anthony Van Dyck. Van Dyck was a pupil of Rubens. A star at a young age (his portraits painted when he was a teenager are remarkable), he moved to the protestant patron Charles I in England. I was told when I was studying in Florence that he is the father of the English portrait school which traces a line from him through figures such as Reynolds and Thomas Lawrence and then those who painted the American founding fathers, such as Gilbert Stuart. Although better known for his portraits (especially the famous triple study of Charles 1) he did a number of works of sacred art that I like very much. Both the inset (featuring the legend of the mule) and the large image below are by Van Dyck.

Each has all the shadowy qualities of baroque art that are often lacking in modern naturalistic styles of sacred art. Most of the painting is rendered in monochrome and loose focus with the sharp detail and naturalistic colour saved for the main areas of interest so the eye is drawn naturally to them. St Anthony is shown with Virgin and Child. I have just been reading through his life in the Catholic Encyclopedia and it recounts how, shortly before he died he had a vision of Our Lord as a child. Although I have not found references to Our Lady being present as well in the accounts that I read, paintings of this vision do seem always to depict her presence too. The book I think with which he is always portrayed indicates that he is Doctor of the Church.

And to support this, h.Here is a pen and ink from the 17th century by and Italian called Canini of the the Virgin and Child appearing to St Anthony of Padua and a hermit. We can see in this monochrome rendering how the baroque period is characterised by the rendering of form by tone rather than by line (which characterises the iconographic and gothic far more).


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