Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Vision of Saint Anthony of Padua

Artist:
Anton Raphael Mengs (German, Ústi nad Labem (Aussig) 1728–1779 Rome)
Medium:
Ivory
Dimensions:
5 1/8 x 3 3/4 in. (130 x 96 mm)
Classification:
Miniatures
Credit Line:
Gift of Harry G. Friedman, 1951
Accession Number:
51.160
Not on view
Anton Raphael Mengs was born in Dresden. His father, Ismaël Mengs (1688–1764), painted in miniature, and part of the rigorous training he gave his son was a grounding in that art. From 1741 to 1761 the younger Mengs lived mostly in Rome; thereafter he divided his time between Rome and Spain. He won renown as a painter in oils and in fresco, becoming one of the leading exponents of Neoclassicism.

Saint Anthony of Padua (1195–1231) was born in Lisbon. He became a member of the Franciscan order in 1220, and he spent the last years of his life in Padua. The legend of the appearance of the Christ child to Anthony derives from the fourteenth-century Liber miraculorum. The theme was popular in Counter-Reformation art. An oil painting by Mengs of the same subject, but with a different composition, is in the Wellington Museum, Apsley House, London (C. M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Paintings in the Wellington Museum, London, 1982, no. 106, ill.). This miniature is earlier than the work at Apsley House, which was reportedly painted for Charles III of Spain about 1765. Another painting of the subject which is ascribed to Mengs and is rather closer in composition belongs to the Bergen Billedgalleri, Norway.

The only miniatures by A. R. Mengs known to Leo R. Schidlof (The Miniature in Europe, Graz, 1964, vol. 2, pp. 550–51; vol. 4, pl. 398, fig. 810) were portraits executed with a pointillist technique. The present work is exceptional in being a version in miniature of a religious theme which he later repeated in oil.

[2016; adapted from Reynolds and Baetjer 1996]
Inscription: Signed and dated (reverse, in ink): AR. Mengs. fe. 1758
Harry G. Friedman (until 1951)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 5, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 105.

Graham Reynolds with the assistance of Katharine Baetjer. European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, pp. 11, 13, 120, no. 105, colorpl. 105 (obverse) and ill. p. 121 (obverse and reverse), call it "exceptional in being a version in miniature of a religious theme which [Mengs] later repeated in oil".



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