Ink, tempera, and gold on vellum
Sheet: 18.5 x 17.5 cm (7 5/16 x 6 7/8 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1954.796
The focus of this initial is an imposing portrait of Saint Anthony, one of the original Christian “desert hermits.” Anthony retired into the Egyptian desert where he remained in solitude for many years. He is generally regarded as the founder of monasticism and, along with Saints Jerome, Ambrose, and Gregory the Great, one of the four fathers of the Christian Church. Anthony is identified here by his monastic garb and by the tau (T-shaped Egyptian cross) on the shoulder of his cloak. The religious order bearing his name was founded in the 11th century, and numerous monasteries were founded in his honor. Members of this order are depicted in the lower left.
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