Saint Anthony of Padua (?) distributing Bread

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This picture is small, but it contains a lot of action. Franciscan friars (members of the religious order founded by Saint Francis) in brown robes hand out bread to the poor, an activity that was typical for them. The figure with the subtle halo most prominent among the friars is likely Saint Anthony of Padua. Willem van Herp has painted the crowd of people on the receiving end of the friars' charity with great gusto. A blind man approaches from the right, assisted by a young boy; a mother and child directly in front of Saint Anthony reach out to the saint with urgency. Two dogs – one large and one small – turn their attention to a fallen loaf. A large quantity of works by van Herp survive, which means he must have worked at great pace.

The National Gallery, London



Saint Anthony of Padua (?) distributing Bread


probably 1662


Oil on copper


H 80 x W 114.3 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Richard Simmons, 1846

Work type



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