Inventory number
Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y
Saint Anthony the Abbot and Saint Paul, the First Hermit
Ca. 1633
261 cm x 192,5 cm
On display
Royal Collection (New Royal Palace, Madrid, “cuarto del infante don Javier”, 1772, n. 866; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “cuarto de la serenísima infanta-dormitorio”, 1794, s.n.; Royal Palace, Madrid, “habitación del infante don Carlos-quinta pieza”, 1814-1818, s.n.)

This is a representation in five scenes of the meeting of Saint Anthony the Abbot with Saint Paul the Hermit, as described by Jacobus de Voragine in The Golden Legend (XIV).

Saint Anthony has a dream which leads him to visit Saint Paul. On his way, he is miraculously guided to the hermit's cave by a satyr, a centaur and a wolf. Each of these scenes is depicted in the background of the composition. Saint Paul opens the door of his shelter to Saint Anthony and together they share a meal miraculously brought to them by a raven. Those moments are depicted inside the cave, at the right of the work and in the foreground. Finally, Saint Anthony prays at Saint Paul's tomb, accompanied by lions, at the left of the composition.

Velázquez used the light as a subtle resource to represent and isolate so many different moments in a single composition.

This work was painted for the hermitage of San Pablo in the gardens of Madrid's Buen Retiro Palace. In 1722 it appeared in the inventory of Madrid's Royal Palace, and in 1819 it became a part of the Prado Museum Collection.

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