Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Attributed to Gherardo di Jacopo Starnina 1354 -1409/13
c. 1410
Tempera on wood, 80 x 216 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

The Thebaid or Thebais is the region of ancient Egypt containing the thirteen southernmost nomes of Upper Egypt, from Abydos to Aswan.

It acquired its name from its proximity to the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes.

Around the 5th century, since it was a desert, the Thebaid became a place of retreat of a number of Christian hermits, and was the birthplace of Pachomius.

In Christian art, the Thebaid was represented as a place with numerous monks

The eremetical life was introduced into the Lower Thebaid by St. Anthony.

The Thebaid was a popular subject in 15th-century painting. It developed in Tuscan painting about the middle of the fourteenth century.

The Thebaid saints include St Jerome, St Anthony Abbot, and St John the Recluse amongst many others

They widen their view to encompass many stories and many individuals

There is no foreground, no centre-stage. Everything is pictorially equal.

The scene is full of stories: scenes from the lives of the desert fathers. Episodes are separated by small groupings separated by trees and piles of rock.

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