Saint Ambrose, who lived in the 4th fourth century, was an important Christian scholar and bishop. Here he is depicted among his books in a forceful pose emphasized by his massive hands. On the table’s edge, a scourge, or whip—the knotted rope attached to a wooden rod—symbolizes Ambrose’s fight against heresy. The three knots refer to the doctrine of the Trinity, the concept of one god in three persons: Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. Claude Vignon made this painting upon returning to Paris after spending over a decade in Italy. The saint’s sumptuous clothing and luminous gold miter (headdress) display a delight in color typical of Vignon’s work from this period.


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