The St Anthony Cycle
of six paintings
- each 8ft x 10.5ft - depicting scenes from the life of Saint Anthony
Egypt was commissioned in 2001 for a stately home in North Yorkshire
the works were completed in 2002.
page shows work
on the cycle in Ghislaine's studio, some of the panels in
of some of the panels and the full
sequence with documentation.
source for the story of the Saint's
life is the biography by Saint Athanasius and Voraigne's The
|Work in progress on the St Anthony
cycle in Ghislaine Howard's studio
|Panels in situ - panels 1 and
2 (left) and panels 2 and 3 (right)
Overview of the installation
of the St Anthony series
of panel 1 - Departure
||Detail of panel 3 - The Struggle
| Details of panel 6 - The
Death of St Anthony
Shortly after the death of his parents,
the young St Anthony hears the passage from the gospel "If thou wilt be
perfect go sell all that thou hast and come follow me and thou shalt
treasure in Heaven."
He immediately feels compelled to
imitate the lives of the apostles and in order to do so he distributes
his inherited property to the townspeople. Shortly after he hears the
"Be not solicitous for the morrow," and so he then gives away his
possessions to the poor and places his young sister with known and
virgins, giving her to the nuns to be brought up and leaves forthwith
practise a life of asceticism.
The panel represents the moment that
St Anthony bids farewell to his sister.
Anthony Seeks Wisdom
From Jacobus de Voraigne’s The
Golden Legend, one of the most popular icongraphical
He recounts how Saint Anthony decided
to seek out St Paul of Thebes, the first Christian hermit, and learn
him. He begins by questioning a centaur, helped by a satyr who sends
to the mountains. St Paul’s dwelling (a rather well-appointed
often seen through a cleft in the rocks. The holy man was kept fed by a
raven or a crow that would bring him nutrition in the shape of freshly
baked bread. On St Anthony’s arrival, the bird knowingly
doubled the quantity
for the unexpected guest. Shortly after seeing the hermit and taking
leave he sees the soul of the pious man raised up to heaven. He returns
to the cave and sees the body of his mentor about to be interred by two
The panel depicts the moment in which
the young and old man meet each other for the first time.The centaur
be seen departing into the woodland.
|3 The Struggle with Demons
From St Athanasius, page 28.
And here again the Lord was not
forgetful of St Anthony’s struggle and came to help him. For
up and saw, as it were, the roof opening and a beam of light spreading
down upon him. The demons suddenly disappeared as did the pain in his
The panel represents St Anthony alone,
illuminated by a single beam of light at the moment of his release from
his tormentors. The devils and demons disappear into the darkness.
|4 St Anthony’s Ministry
St Anthony Preaching on Emerging
from the Broken Door of the Deserted Fort, Broken Down by his Followers.
From St Athanasius, page 32.
His friends, hearing fearful noises,
break down the door of the ancient fortress in which the saint has made
his home. He emerges calmly and without surprise. On seeing the
multitude, he begins to preach to them.
The panel represents the moment when
St Anthony appears through the broken doorway helped by his friends.
From St Athanasius, page 65.
Whilst visiting the brethren on
the Nile with some fellow monks, travelling with a camel laden with
and water, the water gave out and they were in intense danger, for
was nowhere to be found. Presently they were too weak even to walk;
lay down on the ground in despair.
St Anthony, now an aged man,
was overcome with grief; he sighed deeply and walked a little way away.
He knelt and prayed and at once the Lord made a spring gush forth and
all drank and were refreshed.
The panel shows St Anthony in the
foreground turning to hand a water bowl to a younger man. Their hands
around the bowl and a camel turns his head towards them.
From St Athanasius, page 96.
Surrounded by 'his children' after
having given away his clothes, which were then treated as holy relics
the saint, he tranquilly and joyfully takes leave of his earthly
The panel shows the recumbent
saint supported by a friend, whilst a woman in red takes his hand and
it - she may be understood to be his sister and her gesture signifies
as well as farewell. In the background another woman (based on myself)
looks around to see a black stork (the patron's emblem) taking flight.
The summer house against which the scene is set is in the grounds of
patron's house and the closed arch echoes the open arch in the first
A glimpse of garden may be seen beyond.