He is not well-known in the present age, but Christians in medieval Europe would have been very familiar with him. This saint was often invoked to intercede for the cure and relief of skin diseases. St Anthony came from Egypt and was a pioneer of the monastic life. He was credited with bringing the concept of monastic life to the western world. He practised many austerities. He carried a staff with a cross on top and a bell. In the engraving, Albrecht Dürer depicts him with his cross and bell by his side, sitting by a river outside a town and reading from a book. There's a great sense of peace and tranquillity in this image. Even the water in the river appears to stand still. This tranquil and beautiful engraving is housed in the famous British Royal Collection.
It is not a large work. Its dimensions are 10.1 x 14.6 cm. Albrecht Dürer's greatness was that he produced such detailed depictions in typically diminutive sizes. The artist depicts the saint as living in his own, contemporary world, although, in fact, he lived 1000 years before that. The saint is seen against the backdrop of a 15th-century city, apart from rather than a part of everyday life. The artist has used a similar background to another work of his. The saint appears to be lost in his reading as he reads his book, oblivious to his surroundings. Although Albrecht Dürer worked mostly with engravings rather than paintings, his skill as an artist is undisputed. This work shows his ability to show a peaceful scene, along with his great attention to fine details.
Albrecht Dürer was born in 1471 in the prosperous town of Nuremberg. A centre of commerce and learning, the atmosphere was lively and culturally stimulating. Albrecht Dürer's interest in art began when he was studying to follow in his father's footsteps in the goldsmith trade. His interest expanded into learning to paint and ultimately, engravings and woodcuts became his forte. His art became a great medium for exploring spiritual matters and he depicted many religious images. Biblical scenes and lives of the saints are beautifully depicted in his body of work.