Circle of Anthony van Dyck

Flanders 1599-1641
St. Martin Dividing his Cloak with a Beggar 25.0300

St. Martin of Tours (ca. 315-397), preacher, bishop, a patron saint of France, the founder of the first French monasteries, is frequently portrayed as a bishop or Roman soldier, as he is in this painting. According to the legend, Martin served with the Roman army in Gaul (now France). Once he found a lame beggar shivering in the winter cold, and taking his sword, he cut in half his paludamentum, or military cloak, to share with the poor man. That night, in a dream, Christ appeared to him wearing the fragment Martin had given away. It was this vision that marked Martin's conversion to Christianity. His tomb at Tours in France became a pilgrimage site in the 8th century and his cloak a holy relic. His influence was felt throughout Europe; hundreds of churches were dedicated to him in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and in England. It is believed that this painting is by an artist who either worked closely with-or was strongly influenced by-Anthony van Dyck. Born in Flanders, Van Dyck was the most successful pupil/assistant of Peter Paul Rubens. In 1620 Van Dyck left the Netherlands for a time, to paint in the service of James I of England. In 1632 he was back in England, as court painter for Charles I. Although Van Dyck painted mythological and religious scenes, he is known primarily for his grand portraits of European and English aristocracy. Van Dyck's tall, elegantly draped figures, as well as his characterizations and poses (particularly those involving equestrian subjects), were copied by artists for the next three centuries.




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