St Anthony the Hermit and the City
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) “St. Anthony the Hermit” (1519)[ Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco]
“The subject of this illustration, Saint Anthony, was an Egyptian monk who is thought to have lived sometime during the period 251-356 AD. He is considered the first Christian hermit, having sought solitude, abstinence and meditation in the desert from an early age.
Dürer’s present the evocative image of the hermit Saint Anthony in a rare horizontal composition – and places the subject in scholarly contemplation before a glorious Medieval city. Knackfuss (Durer: H Grevel & Co, London; 1900) makes the following insightful comments on this illustration:
‘Among works of a different kind which proceeded from his never resting hand, one of the productions of the year 1519 is remarkable: the small, delicate engraving with a delightful view of a fortified town – which remind one of the “Burg” at Nuremberg – and, in the foreground, St Anthony the Hermit. The town, standing out in varied outlines from the cloudless sky, harmonises in a curious, romantic way with the figure of the hermit – completely absorbed in his devotion – who has planted his staff with the double cross in the ground beside him.’”