The Temptation of Saint Anthony
Saint Anthony was born to a wealthy family and renounced his upscale life to preach, convert and live the life of a hermit. As the story goes Saint Anthony was visited on many occasions by Satan disguised as various temptations while living in seclusion in the desert.
The temptation of St. Anthony has been represented by many artisits and writers and usually portrays the temptations as supernatural. During the 10th century Italian artists created the first frescos representative of this subject. In the middle ages this theme was developed in literature and German woodcuts and in the 1500’s Hieronymus Bosch and Mathias Grünewald both created famous painting. Bosch who was preoccupied with themes of torment and the sinfulness of man painted The Temptation of Saint Anthorny which now hangs in the Museo National de Arte Antiga in Lisbon. This three panel piece features physical punishment, a Black Mass and the blandishments of food and sex. A copy by a student of Bosch’s is displayed in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and another version in the Prado Museum in Madrid which I saw last year. In 1874 French author Gustave Flaubert, wrote a book called The Temptation of Saint Anthony which he considered his master work.
In the 20th centrury Hollywood's Loew-Lewin Productions created a "Temptation of St. Anthony" contest. The producers asked twelve popular artist of Modern Art to paint what Anthony saw. Each artist was paid $500 for trying and Max Ernst won first place and the $3,000 prize. Other artist in the competition included: Paul Delvaux, Ivan Le Lorraine Albright and Salvador Dali, who created a desert landscape with a caravan of spider-legged elephants "carrying on their backs erotic fountains, obelisks, churches and escorials".
One of my favorite contemporary artist who I interviewed a few weeks ago, Jorge Villalba, sent me this picture of his latest painting titled The Temptation of Saint Anthony. Check out more of his work here or here. Enjoy!