Skip to main content
Fantastic Ruins with Saint Augustine and the Child
François de Nomé
/

Buildings crumble and collapse along a seashore harshly illuminated against a dark sky. These unstable structures are probably assembled from elements of ancient and modern architecture familiar to the artist. The domed building beside a Gothic church-like tower is based on the ancient Temple of Vesta at Tivoli, near Rome. Stone statues lie in pieces, stand in niches or decorate an altar or sarcophagus.

At the bottom of the picture are two tiny figures. They are Saint Augustine and the child, whose legend provides the theme for this dream-like scene of fantasy architecture. Augustine saw a small child trying to empty all the water out of the sea using a seashell. He told the child it was impossible, and the child replied that it was equally impossible for Augustine to explain the mysteries of the Trinity, God’s three roles as Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Key facts
Artist François de Nomé
Artist dates about 1593 - after 1630
Full title Fantastic Ruins with Saint Augustine and the Child
Date made 1623
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 45.7 x 65.7 cm
Inscription summary Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Sir Philip Sassoon Bt, GBE, through the Art Fund, 1923.
Inventory number NG3811
Location in Gallery Not on display
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo