San Antonio Abad

Pulse para ampliar San Antonio Abad (1620)

Luis Tristán (1580-1624)

  • DE00029
  • 1620
  • Oil on canvas

Luis Tristán frequently returned to the figure of Saint Anthony Abbot in his work, and this depiction may have been made to accompany the painting of Saint Peter of Alcántara (also held by the El Greco Museum), as the two are related by provenance, size and character. Founder of the Anchorites in Egypt, he spent much of his life in the desert, where he was tempted by the Devil. He is depicted seated next to a tree, on his knees, with an open book, his right hand on his chest and his head raised with an expression of devotion. On a nearby rock are the saint’s attributes: a skull, books and a bell.

This iconographic theme would appear in some of Tristan’s other works; in addition to this canvas, we know of two other paintings with the same composition. The first (of unknown provenance) is a high quality-copy of this painting; it is currently held in a private collection in the United States. The other, from the collection of the Marquis of Saltillo, is somewhat smaller and features some variations, especially with regard to the landscape and the beam of light that falls onto the figure of the saint.

The saint depicted here was believed for some time to be a representation of St. Jerome.

This painting uses a notably narrow range of colours. In it, the reddish-brown of the tunic stands out, contrasting with the bright white of the habit. The saint’s face is also painted in a remarkably natural, expressive way.

The painting, previously held by the former Museo de la Trinidad, has been attributed to various artists. When it was added to the catalogue of the Prado Museum in 1910, it was identified as being the work of Luis Tristán.