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Gaspard Dughet, Landscape with Meeting of Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Paul the First Hermit
1650 ca.
Material and technique
oil on canvas
165 x 200 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
The oval canvas depicts one of the most famous episodes in the life of the Desert Fathers, the meeting between St. Anthony Abbot and Paul of Thebes, credited with being the first  hermit monk. The subject allows the painter to create a huge and very intense landscape composition.  The small figures of the saints meeting before St. Paul’s cave appear almost marginal to the magnificent natural scenery surrounding them. The scene takes place in an area of tufa stone covered in shrubbery, typical of the Roman campagna, while  the foreground is dotted with oak trees. On the left, the raven that brought St. Paul food each day flies overhead. According to legend, which Jacobus de Voragine narrated in Legenda Aurea, on the day of St. Anthony’s visit the raven brought two rations of bread.
The painting, companion to Landscape with Figures, has much in common with the frescos which the artist painted in the Roman church of  San Martino ai Monti between 1647 and 1651. This is apparent in the successful association between the landscape and the holy story, as well as in the choice of style and composition which, although owing much to the idealized landscapes of Poussin and true-to-life ones of Lorrain, give a more intense and moving interpretation of nature.
Landscape with Meeting of Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Paul the First Hermit
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