This painting was part of the Barbara Piasecka Johnson Collection, and after the death of the collector it was sold through Sotheby's in July 2014. Profit from the sale goes to the Barbara Piasecka Johnson Foundation for Autistic Children created in 1974. The anonymous painter of this extraordinary panel is referred to as the Master of the Piasecka Johnson Madonna. More
Saint Anthony of Egypt, (born c. 251, Koma, near al-Minyā, Egypt—died January 17, 356, in Dayr Mārī Antonios hermitage, near the Red Sea), was a religious hermit and one of the earliest monks, considered the founder and father of organized Christian monasticism. His rule represented one of the first attempts to codify guidelines for monastic living.
A disciple of Paul of Thebes, Anthony began to practice an ascetic life at the age of 20 and after 15 years withdrew for absolute solitude to a mountain by the Nile now called Dayr al-Maymūn, where he lived from about 286 to 305. During the course of this retreat, he began his legendary combat against the Devil, withstanding a series of temptations famous in Christian theology and iconography. About 305 he emerged from his retreat to instruct and organize the monastic life of the hermits who imitated him and who had established themselves nearby. When Christian persecution ended after the Edict of Milan (313), he moved to a mountain in the Eastern Desert, between the Nile and the Red Sea, where the monastery Dayr Mārī Antonios still stands. There he remained, receiving visitors and, on occasion, crossing the desert to Dayr al-Maymūn. He ventured twice to Alexandria, the last time (c. 350) to preach against Arianism, a heretical doctrine teaching that Christ the Son is not of the same substance as God the Father. More