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Saint Anthony Abbot in a Landscape
Maíno, Fray Juan Bautista
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Maíno, Fray Juan Bautista

Pastrana, Guadalajara, 1581 - Madrid, 1649

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Saint Anthony Abbot in a Landscape

1612 - 1614. Oil on panel. Not on display

On 14 February 1612 Juan Bautista Maíno signed the contract to execute the paintings for the monastery church of San Pedro Mártir in Toledo. Maíno agreed to a period of eight months to make the paintings, which had to portray the scenes and episodes specified by the prior of the monastery. Despite the agreement reached in the contract, the paintings were not completed until December 1614. In the meantime Maíno entered the monastery, becoming a member of the Dominican Order on 27 July 1613.

As a result, this altarpiece is the key reference point in Maíno’s oeuvre. Antonio Palomino based his judgement of the artist’s work on it, describing Maíno as one of the most eminent painters of his day, as can be seen in his works for the said house [San Pedro Mártir], particularly the high altar of that church with the four canvases of the Cuatro Pascuas [four feasts], in which there are excellent nudes and other things painted in majestic life-size. For his part, Ponz singled out the invention, knowledge of chiaroscuro, draughtsmanship and skill in the use of colour that Maíno’s paintings revealed, and he was the first to refer to the subjects depicted: The coming of the Holy Spirit, the Resurrection of Christ, his Birth and the Adoration of the Magi. Together, these are the most important episodes in the life of Christ, from his birth to his resurrection, and thus constitute the great iconic images of the Catholic world and the most important festivals in the ecclesiastical calendar, known together in Spanish as the Cuatro Pascuas.

The San Pedro Mártir altarpiece is completed with four depictions of Christian saints from the late classical period. These figures were the subject of popular devotion and represented the quietude and renunciation of worldly affairs that was the aim of monastic life. Maíno painted them on a much smaller scale and located them above and below the principal canvases. Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist were made on canvas and installed in the lower or predella level, while Mary Magdalene and Saint Anthony Abbot were painted on panel and located above the two principal canvases on the upper level.

In his depiction of Saint Anthony Abbot, Maíno returned to a male figure type he had used for the Apostles in the Pentecost, that of an old man with a thick beard and balding head who reads the book that rests on his lap. The saint wears a hooded habit and is accompanied by his most familiar attributes, a pig and a hooked staff from which hangs a bell. The Tau cross, another of the attributes of this third-century saint, is embroidered on his habit. Saint Anthony, one of the earliest hermits, was extremely popular throughout the Middle Ages, primarily due to his miraculous powers over infectious diseases. Here, Maíno locates him seated, facing the viewer, backed by a rocky outcrop of rounded forms similar to the ones behind the Penitent Magdalen, although now enveloped in the shadow of what seems to be a tranquil sunset beside a broad river. On the opposite bank, next to some leafy trees, is a church that undoubtedly refers to the saint’s status as founder of the religious Order of the Antonines. In the background the scene is composed of gently rolling hills of a reddish-brown tone.

As in the depiction of the Magdalen, Maíno used dense, broad brushstrokes in the area of the sky, while the saint was realised through impastoed brushstrokes and areas of transparencies that the artist then refined through subtle touches which helped to define the most precisely worked areas, such as the head, using the calligraphic precision of a miniaturist. This head has notably fine details, such as the locks of hair, while that of the wild pig is created from small touches of colour. In contrast, Saint Anthony’s left hand is rather crudely rendered (Ruiz, L.: Juan Bautista Maíno: 1581-1649, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2009, pp. 289, 294-295).


Technical data

Inventory number
Maíno, Fray Juan Bautista
Saint Anthony Abbot in a Landscape
1612 - 1614
Height: 61 cm; Width: 155 cm
Retablo de las Cuatro Pascuas. Iglesia de San Pedro Mártir, Toledo.
Church of the Dominican Convent of San Pedro Mártir, Toledo; Museo de la Trinidad.

Bibliography +

Cruzada Villaamil, Gregorio, Catálogo provisional, historial y razonado del Museo Nacional de Pinturas, Madrid, 1865.

Angulo Íñiguez, D.; Pérez Sánchez, A. E., Historia de la pintura española: escuela madrileña del primer tercio del siglo XVII, Instituto Diego Velázquez, Madrid, 1969, pp. 313, n. 24.

Caravaggio y el naturalismo español, Comisaría General de Exposiciones de la Dirección, Sevilla, 1973, pp. n. 74.

Camón Aznar, José, Pintura Española de los Siglos XVI al XIX, Direccion General de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1973, pp. 64.

Serrera, J. M., Juan Bautista Maíno: Notas sobre el retablo de las Cuatro Pascuas, Boletín del Museo del Prado, X, 1989, pp. 35-41.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (II). Museo de la Trinidad, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1991.

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1993, pp. 82, n. 23.

Boitani, M. C., Juan Bautista Maino, Fratelli Palombi Editori, Roma, 1995, pp. 167-168, il. 32.

Ruiz Gómez, L., Maíno en Pastrana: el retablo de los Miranda, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXIV, 2006, pp. 14-23.

Ruíz Gómez, L, Juan Bautista Maíno, 1581-1649, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 136, n. 20.

Papi, Gianni, Borgianni and Maíno: new discoveries, Artur Ramon Art, 2017, pp. 57.

Other inventories +

Inv. Museo de la Trinidad, Pintura. Núm. 936.
936. / Tabla. Sn Antón abad, en el desierto, con un libro en las manos y á su izqda el baculo y una campanilla. Figª. como de tres cuartas y cuerpo entº / Autor Maino / Rectifdo Alto 0,61 ancho 1,55 / Embarrotada y rda con moldula lisa dorada y colgdo en / Nº 58 S.G.

Exhibitions +

Juan Bautista Maíno (1581-1649)
20.10.2009 - 17.01.2010

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III
25.02.1994 - 27.03.1994

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III
21.01.1994 - 20.02.1994

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III
17.12.1993 - 16.01.1994

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III
12.11.1993 - 12.12.1993

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III
08.10.1993 - 07.11.1993

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III
03.09.1993 - 03.10.1993

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III
29.07.1993 - 29.08.1993

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III
25.06.1993 - 25.07.1993

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III
21.05.1993 - 20.06.1993

Pintores del reinado de Felipe III
15.04.1993 - 06.05.1993

Displayed objects +

Bell: Campanilla de metal con cuerpo circular en la base y con badajo. Está suspendida de un cordón en el cayado del santo.
Idiófono de golpe directo, el uso de la campana en Occidente es coetáneo al comienzo de la Edad Media. Instrumento de llamada de uso doméstico y personal (Proyecto Iconografía Musical, U.C.M.).


Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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