About Balthasar Beschey
Antwerp 1708 – 1776 Antwerp
In the first half of his career Beschey painted a lot of landscapes, in the second half religious scenes and also portraits.
Pupil of the little known Pieter Strick.
Beschey was professor of Andreas Cornelis Lens.
Balthasar had three brothers, all of them painters. Best known, besides Bathasar, is his elder brother Carel (1706 – 1776?), who was also a landscape painter. His younger brothers are Jacob Andries (1710 – 1786), who also specialised in religious scenes and Jan Frans Beschey (1717 – 1799) whom little is known about.
Balthasar was professor and director (from 1775 onwards) of the Academy of Arts in Antwerp.
Dean of the Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke in 1775/76.
About the subject of our painting
Paul of Thebes (sitting right in our painting), also known as Saint Paul the Anchorite is regarded as the first Christian hermit. He lived in Egypt in a cave in the mountains of the Theban desert, having fled the persecution of the Roman emperors Decius and Valerianus. Until the age of 43 he lived from the fruit of a nearby palm tree. Then a raven started bringing him daily half a loaf of bread. He lived to be almost a hundred years old.
Our painting represents Paul’s meeting with the hermit Anthony the Great (sitting left), also known as Anthony the Abbot, who then had already reached the age of 113.
That visit, during which they conversed, lasted for one day and one night.
The next time Anthony wanted to visit Paul he found him death, so he buried him.
The life of Paul was described by Saint Jerome (circa 347 – 420 AD) in his ‘Vita Patrum’ (‘Vita Pauli primi eremitae’).
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it shows how a rather superficial painter of decorative landscapes looked for a deeper meaning in the second part of his life: this is a nice scene holding a deeper meaning.