Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Temptation Of Saint Anthony

With MonsterBrains reaching its one year anniversary next week and having hit 500 posts yesterday, I decided to make a giant post about artwork that completely defines the kind of art this blog is all about, a celebration of monsters and the fantastic!

And so in honor of the saint who has inspired some of the most fantastic and monster infested artwork in history, here is a large collection of paintings, prints and drawings based on "The Temptation Of Saint Anthony". I was going to post this a few days ago but thought it would be more fitting today as January 17th is noted as Saint Anthony's feast day.

The story behind all this artwork having Saint Anthony being surrounded by insane looking monsters can best be described in the following quote from wikipedia...

"According to Athanasius, the devil fought St Anthony by afflicting him with boredom, laziness, and the phantoms of women, which he overcame by the power of prayer, providing a theme for Christian art. After that, he moved to a tomb, where he resided and closed the door on himself, depending on some local villagers who brought him food. When the devil perceived his ascetic life and his intense worship, he was envious and beat him mercilessly, leaving him unconscious. When his friends from the local village came to visit him and found him in this condition, they carried him to a church.

After he recovered, he made a second effort and went back to the desert, further out, to a mountain by the Nile, called Pispir, now Der el Memun, opposite Arsinoë in the Fayyum. Here he lived strictly enclosed in an old abandoned Roman fort for some twenty years. According to Athanasius, the devil again resumed his war against Saint Anthony, only this time the phantoms were in the form of wild beasts, wolves, lions, snakes and scorpions. They appeared as if they were about to attack him or cut him into pieces. But the Saint would laugh at them scornfully and say, "If any of you have any authority over me, only one would have been sufficient to fight me." At his saying this, they disappeared as though in smoke, and God gave him the victory over the devil. While in the fort he only communicated with the outside world by a crevice through which food would be passed and he would say a few words. Saint Anthony would prepare a quantity of bread that would sustain him for six months. He did not allow anyone to enter his cell: whoever came to him, stood outside and listened to his advice.

Then one day he emerged from the fort with the help of villagers to break down the door. By this time most had expected him to have wasted away, or gone insane in his solitary confinement, but he emerged healthy, serene, and enlightened. Everyone was amazed he had been through these trials and emerged spiritually rejuvenated. He was hailed as a hero and from this time forth the legend of Anthony began to spread and grow."

It is likely that Saint Anthony did manage to see monsters from Hell due to hallucinations from starvation and isolation. So in some strange way these paintings are all based on a bizarre psychedelic truth.

Lieven van Lathem - The Temptation Of Saint Anthony - tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, silver paint, and ink on parchment leaf - 1469

Martin Schongauer - Engraving - 1480-90

Giovanni Pietro da Birago - St Anthony Abbot battling with demons - Tempera colors, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment - 1490

Bernardino Parenzano - Temptations of St Anthony - 1494

Hieronymus Bosch - Temptation of St Anthony - Centeral Panel - oil on panel - 1500
Flight and Failure of St. Anthony - Left wing - oil on panel - 1500
St. Anthony at Meditation - Right wing - oil on panel - 1500
Temptation of St Anthony drawing - pen and bistre on paper
Temptation of St Anthony sketches
Another St Anthony painting by Bosch..
And one more painting of St Anthony by Bosch..
This painting of St Anthony from 1490-1500 is attributed to Bosch. Since it isn't officially considered Bosch's work it's likely this was made by another artist who either copied a lost Bosch painting or drawing or was just directly inspired by his imagery.

Lucas Cranach The Elder - Temptation of St Anthony - woodcut - 1506
See details of this print here..

Lucas van Leyden - Temptation of Saint Anthony - oil - 1509

Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo - Temptation of St Anthony - - oil on panel - 1515-20
If you know of a larger version online of this painting please let me know!

Mathis Gothart Grünewald - Temptation of Saint Anthony - 1512-16
Larger version here - detail view with a more color correct example of this painting

Niklaus Manuel - Temptation of St Anthony - 1520
- many thanks to Paul Rumsey for this suggestion!

Jan Wellens de Cock - The Temptation of Saint Anthony - oil on panel - 1526
Click here to see a detailed view of the above painting.
Click here to see a slightly different version of the above painting, anyone know where a larger example is?
Click here to see an ink drawing with the Saint Anthony theme.
Another Temptation of Saint Anthony painting by de Cock...
Woodcut of "Temptation of Saint Anthony" from 1522

Cranach d. A. Lucas - Temptation of St Anthony - 1520-25

Jan Mandyn - The Temptation of Saint Anthony - painted after 1530
Here's a small sample of another Saint Anthony painting by Mandyn, anyone know where a larger version is?

Artist Unknown - Temptation of St Anthony - 1532

Herri met de Bles - Temptation of St Anthony - oil on oak panel - 1540-50
Another example of a St Anthony painting by de Bles

Pieter Huys - Temptation of St Anthony - oil on panel - 1547

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Landscape with Temptation of St Anthony - oil on wood - 1555 - 58
A slightly larger copy of this painting can be found here.
View details of the above painting here.
I've seen this painting labeled as being created by a follower of Bruegel as well as by his own hand, I'm not sure which is true.
Another painting of St Anthony attributed to Bruegel the Elder..
And a print after The Temptation of St Anthony by Bruegel..

Marten de Vos - The Temptation of St Antony - oil on wood - 1591-94

Jan Brueghel The Elder (Son of Pieter Brueghel) - Temptation of St Anthony - 1603-04

School of Jan Breughel the Elder - Temptation of St. Anthony - oil on canvas

Frederick Valckenborch - The Temptation of Saint Anthony - oil on wood - 1618-21

Thomas van Apshoven - Temptation of St Anthony - oil on panel - 1622

Salvatore Rosa - Tentazioni di San Antonio

Jacques Callot - "The Temptation of Saint Anthony" - Engraving and etching on paper - 1634
I had the priviledge several years ago of holding an original print of this in my hands with the face of the print entirely uncovered so I had a great chance to study this in great detail.
Detail of upper left - Detail of upper right - Detail of lower left - Detail of lower right
Here is an earlier version of "The Temptation of St. Anthony" by Callot dating back to 1617. Unfortunately this is the largest version I've been able to find online. If anyone knows where I can find a larger example of this print, please let me know.

Abraham Blooteling - Temptation of St. Anthony - mezzotint - 17th century

Cornelis Saftleven - Temptation Of St Anthony - oil on panel - painted between 1607 and 1681

David Teniers The Younger - The Temptation of Saint Antoine - oil paint on wood
Another oil painting of "The Temptation of Saint Anthony" made after 1640..
And another oil painting made of "Temptation of Saint Anthony"..
Another Teniers painting of Saint Anthony with similiar looking creatures.
Yet another painting by Teniers of this subject..
One more... you can see this is very similar to this painting of Saint Anthony.
Check out this amazing lithograph of the Temptation of Saint Anthony.
Click here to see details of the above lithograph..
I couldn't link these 3 paintings up to Teniers but I think they're made by him as well 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

Ricci Sebastiano - Antonio Francesco - oil on canvas - 1706-07

Felicien Rops - La Tentation de St-Antoine - watercolour preparation, non-fixed pastels and gouache - 1878

Odilon Redon - Tentations de Sainte-Antoine - lithograph - 1889
Additional Redon lithographs made in the Saint Anthony series - 1 - 2 - 3

Jose Guadalupe Posada - Las Tentaciones De San Antonio - relief etching on zinc - 1910
Click here to see a zoom feature version..

Max Ernst - Temptation of Saint Anthony - oil on canvas - 1945

Salvador Dali - The Temptation of St Anthony - oil on canvas - 1946
A statue of the horse from Dali's painting of The Temptation Of St Anthony.

Leonora Carrington - Oil painting on fabric - 1947
A picture of Carrington while still working on the above painting.

Vojen Wilhelm Cech Colini - "Temptation Of Saint Anthony 3" egg tempera on masonite panel - 1959

Béla Kondor - Szt. Antal megkísértése - 1966

This painting of The Temptation of Saint Anthony is credited to Hieronymus Bosch but I don't think this is his work, can anyone say who did paint this?

And here's a few more paintings and drawings and I think an illuminated manuscript with the theme of Saint Anthony's Temptation. I lost the name of the artists and dates, if anyone can help me figure that out I'd appreciate it.
1 - 2 - 3 - 4

The great blog "Giornale Nuovo" has an article on the paintings devoted to the theme of Saint Anthony's temptations here.


Anonymous said...

Hi Aeron, the St Anthony by Manuel Deutsch in the Kunstmuseum Bern is
brilliant, see Wikipedia commons.Thanks for all the great art, (and for including me) Paul Rumsey.

Aeron said...

Thanks Paul, I'm a great fan of your charcoal drawings. Are you planning on putting any new ones on your site?

And thanks alot for that suggestion, great painting! I should have typed "antonius" instead of anthony into the commons site, it's turning up some other paintings that I'd missed.

This one for example -

I'll be sure to credit you when I finish up this post later today, thanks again for that suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr.Aeron,
Thanks for your wonderful website.
I have some images for you...
You can send me an email to:
Sincerly yours.

Anonymous said...

Hi Aeron,after you put me on M.B. I put a link on my gallery page to 30 more recent drawings at Chappel

Anonymous said...

Wow Aeron, great post!!!
Congrats on both the anniversary and the posting record.

Callot's (the famous one) and Schongauer's are my 2 favourites. I have often wondered at the sheer number of art works that derive from the St Anthony temptation episode. I could just imagine a 16th cent. artist going "Yes! YES!!!" when offered a commission.

Anonymous said...

Aeron, thanks for putting this great blog entry together!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Aeron!
This is a very amazing work of investigation, thanks, you help me a lot. I'm working on a iconography investigation of the temptation of st. anthony from Salvador Dalí, and your work helps me a lot on this matter.
Any way I want to send you this important piece, from Diego Rivera made in 1947, about the subject that we are all interested.
Have a nice day!!

Anonymous said...

Marco Cannone said : Savoldo peinted another Temptation of St Anthony
that is now conserved at the Pushkin Museum, see

Anonymous said...

I have some good pictures of the Callot version going up on eBay tonight. I picked up an original engraving and have posted it for sale. i'm not sure my pics are as good as yours though.

joanie707 said...

I never realized the many images done of St. Anthony,Wow. I will get to the point I am searching for a lithograph of the 'Tempation' since I have one I just dug out to put up for auction, I would like to know a little about it before I do that but my time is limited---It is eerie but nothing like some of the images I see here, in fact it is very tame
St Anthony praying at a stone alter with a book proped on a skull, he is looking at a tall crucifix with Jesus, in the back ground there are faded out images (meant to be faded out) of a four threating ugly figures, one is really not too faded, but some, also a pig with a bell around his neck, I did see a couple of the prints, lithos, whatever with the presence of a pig. Would someone who is versed on this like to take a look at a photo of it?

Unknown said...

hi, are you sure that "Another Temptation of Saint Anthony painting by de Cock..." - is really a painting by Cock? (i really cant find any information about it..)

and the link to "Woodcut of Temptation of Saint Anthony from 1522" is broken..

Erwan Moreau said...

Great Great Blog !!! So many stuffs here wow !!! I'm French and I'm writting a sociology thesis about : "the monster figure of unnatural".

The best synonym for the word ‘monster’ is the locution ‘unnatural’’ (Aristote, Saint Augustin, Isidore de Seville, Thomas d'Aquin, etc.). That is a paradoxical sentence - if any - when we know that biologically speaking nothing produced by Nature can exist regardless of the respect of its laws. It is among the characteristics of imagination to create exceptions.

But parallel to the Nature as objet of biology and physic is another kind of ‘nature’: the ‘ordinary knowledge’. (Artistote named it the ‘ordinary course’ (ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ) to mention the unnatural aspect of monster), this ‘thing that is produced by the organism to create an order within the experience’s flow’.

Then any monster can be understood as what appears in contrary to an ‘ordinary knowledge’, a ‘sensitive reality’ in every sense, that is to say aesthetics- (mostly associated to an anthropocentred vision) and/or ethicspositioned (ideological intolerance).

And the sharing of affections made by a minds’ community (religious, lay, revolutionary or imperialist, etc.) can reveal some ‘unnatural’ elements, against a form of 'State of Nature' at the level of macrosociology. Elements that are emerging from the Gnostic spirit and its substitute: the dogmatic spirit. Each specifically brings out the dualism between good and evil, knowledge and ignorance that leads towards the decay, decline age - in other words towards eschatological times and their monstrous abominations.

PS : a gift for you, link for larger version of the Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo's painting :