The Vision of Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine (right, about 354 - 430) talked to a child (centre) who was trying to empty the sea into a hole dug in the sand. When Saint Augustine told him that this was impossible, the child, a messenger from God, replied that Augustine, who was pondering how to explain the Trinity, was engaged on an equally impossible task.

Saint Augustine is accompanied by Saint Catherine of Alexandria, with her traditional attribute of a wheel. Saint Stephen, who was one of the first deacons of the church and was stoned to death in about AD 35, is probably the saint visible (perhaps holding stones) in the left background. In the top left corner the Virgin and Child appear upon the clouds with Saint Joseph and music-making angels.

Key facts

Artist dates
about 1481 - 1559
Full title
Saint Augustine with the Holy Family and Saint Catherine of Alexandria ('The Vision of Saint Augustine')
Date made
about 1520
Medium and support
Oil on wood
64.5 x 81.9 cm
Acquisition credit
Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831
Inventory number
Location in Gallery