St. Anthony Abbot Distributing His Wealth to the Poor

WAG 1995.94


Antonio Zanchi was born in Este, near Padua in the Veneto region in northern Italy. He became one of the most promising artists in Venice known for use of dramatic illumination (tenebrist technique), producing paintings such as 'Samson and Delilah', 'Alexander and the Body of Darius' (decoration in the Palazzo Albrizzi, Venice, early 1660s), 'Abraham Teaching Astrology to the Egyptians' (early 1660s) and the monumental 'Plague in Venice' (1666), which, with its theatrical realism and effective use of light, established Zanchi as a painter of large-scale religious compositions. Also known as Anthony the Great, Saint Anthony the Abbot was a Christian monk from Egypt. He was a hermit and ascetic who is often called the Father of Monasticism or Father of All Monks, because he organised his followers into a community and inspired similar communities elsewhere. This drawing shows Anthony giving up his worldly goods before adopting a life free from the material and the sensual. This drawing was previously owned by William Roscoe and Joshua Reynolds; the latter is indicated by his collector's mark, 'Sir R' in capitals in a square (Lugt 2364).