Saint Augustin

Anton Kern
(1709 Děčín – 1747 Dresden)

Saint Augustin
around 1735

oil, canvas, 117 x 88 cm; O 692.

The lonely figure of Saint Augustin, whose rule was followed by the Premonstratensian Order, is painted in gentle colours with shades of gold and blue and with grey and blue shadows. These are evidence of the author’s training in the workshop of the prominent Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Pittoni whose painting of St. Augustin (at present in Ca`Rezzonico, Venetia) may have been a model for Kern's Strahov painting. The Saint is holding a burning heart in his right hand as a symbol of faith in God: "You have pierced my heart with love." With the book and the angel holding a shell for pouring sea water, which symbolises the futility of trying to understand the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, the painting depicts the theology of a spiritual life in love and wisdom.
The origin of the work is unclear. One version of its origin is that the Premonstratensians of Strahov commissioned the painting directly from the artist, including its counterpart with St. Norbert. Beside this version, there are also authorial replicas and smaller copies.