Spanish Colonial, Mexico, ca. 18th century CE. A large oil on canvas depicting San Antonio de Padua (rSt. Anthony of Padua) holding the Christ Child. The tradition of this image stems from the story of Count Tiso of Padua, who witnessed St. Anthony communing with Jesus in child form while praying in his home. Here St. Anthony is shown wearing his friar robe of deep blue and gold and holding a frond of lilies in his right arm. In his left arm, he holds the Holy Child who is placing his hand on a globus cruciger (orb and cross). Both figures have haloes emanating from their heads. St. Anthony stands on a stone floor, yet clouds billow above the scene implying the celestial realm. Beside the pair is a table covered with a scarlet red cloth with a large gospel and an ink quill atop. On the opposite side is a billowing crimson curtain, a classic Baroque device. Size: 29.375" L x 22" W (74.6 cm x 55.9 cm)
The theme of this painting took root during the Counter-Reformation when religious art favored images of the Christ Child. The sweet moment between Saint Anthony and el Santo Nino became popular during the 16th and 17th centuries. Bartolome Esteban Murillo's famous "St. Anthony of Padua with the Child" (1665) for example resides in the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville. According to legend, St. Anthony was staying at Count Tiso of Padua's house, and his host noticed radiant light emanating from underneath the door of the saint's room. As the gentleman peered through the key hole, he was astonished to find that the source of the holy light was in fact the Christ Child seated in St. Anthony's arms.
Most of us assume that Franciscan habits are brown; however, the blue robe - as shown in this painting - was adopted by Spanish Franciscans and was characteristic for Franciscans during this period. It symbolized the monks' constant devotion to the immaculateness of the Virgin. It was not until a papal decree of 1897 that brown became the universal hue of Franciscan habits. The Christ Child's halo is also somewhat unusual - reduced to what is known as the tres potencias motif.