But a full century separates the time of Saint Anthony of Padua and the time of Saint Roch . Saint Anthony was born in 1195 in Lisbon. He was a preaching evangelist who died in Padua in Italy. Saint Roch was a Frenchman. He was born 100 years after Saint Anthony. Neither saint lived beyond his early thirties. One thing they had in common was that they were both Franciscans. Saint Anthony was a monk of the Franciscan order. Saint Roch was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis.
Christians, particularly Catholics, revere the Virgin. This is because she allegedly gave birth to the Christ Child. For Christians, he is God the Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Saint Anthony and Saint Roch both lived in pre-Reformation times. Saint Anthony is still revered in Catholic tradition as the patron saint of lost items. Art often depicts him holding the Christ Child in his arms. This is because he preached the message of Jesus Christ in his active ministry.
Nowadays, Saint Roch, otherwise known as Saint Rocco, isn’t as well known as Saint Anthony. But devotion to Saint Roch was huge in the past. He allegedly had miraculous power over the bubonic plague. His intercession was often invoked by the faithful during times of plague outbreak. He's also the patron of dogs and dog lovers.
This painting is the work of Venetian Renaissance painter, Tiziano. Or Titian as he is usually called in English. Titian is well known as a painter of red-haired women. His name has become the name of a particular shade of hair colour. In fact, Titian red is a subtle hair shade which is a little lighter than auburn. Titian was a Renaissance painter who courageously followed his heart. Like many Renaissance artists, he experimented with styles and techniques. The fact that the three holy figures featured in this painting would have never met shows this. People can suspend their disbelief and see the painting for what it is. A spiritual work of art, created with love and faith.
Titian drew on various influences as inspiration for this work of art. One notices echoes of various other Renaissance paintings in this work. The sfumato technique is evident. The Virgin sits, holding her Child. She is oblivious to all but Him. Saint Roch gazes on the Child adoringly. The Child Stares at Saint Anthony who modestly looks away. The painting was recorded in 1641 as being owned by the Duke of Medina de las Torres in Naples. The Duke gave it to King Philip IV of Spain. That’s how it arrived at its final destination in the Prado Museum in Madrid in 1939.