Andalusian School, Saint Anthony of Padua Holding the Christ Child, late 17th–early 18th century

Sculpted man in draped garment holds an infant

Andalusian School

(Spanish, late 17th–early 18th century)

Saint Anthony of Padua Holding the Christ Child

late 17th–early 18th century

Polychromed wood and ivory

28 x 14 x 12 1/4 in. (71.1 x 35.6 x 31.1 cm)

Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Museum purchase, Meadows Museum Acquisition Fund, MM.89.07

Hear a reading of the object label (0:52 minutes)

Object Label

Although this charming sculpture recalls the numerous votive figures of Saint Anthony so ubiquitous in seventeenth-century Spain, its dynamic, interactive composition endows the work with a strikingly narrative quality. It probably was intended to evoke the legendary vision of Saint Anthony, whose religious meditations one day were rewarded by a vision of the Christ child. The young saint’s attitude of delighted surprise, lips parted and head cocked, suggests that the infant has only just materialized in his arms, interrupting his energetic, forward stride.

Small, sculpted figures of individual saints became popular in southern Spain, particularly in Granada, during the latter half of the seventeenth century. These often served as objects for private devotion, a role for which the joyous, intimate character of this work is particularly well suited.