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The temptation of St. Anthony. Triptych

Painting, XVI century, 131.5×225 cm

Description of the artwork «The temptation of St. Anthony. Triptych»

Triptych "The temptation of St. Anthony" stored in the largest gallery of Portugal – National Museum of ancient art in Lisbon. This is one of the most important works, which reflected the Outlook of Bosch. With his characteristic passion, the artist creates an impressive picture of the struggle of man with evil, temptation, sin, and the devil himself. Saint Anthony, from the point of view of many specialists in Bosch, is not only the personification of the struggle every Christian many challenges that befall it, but also a projection of his own "I" of the artist.

In the last third of life Bosch again and again drawn to the image of St. Anthony. He says it more often than any other Saint. Earlier work "The temptation of St. Anthony" (1490-e) presented in Prado (however, Dutch researchers, contrary to popular attribution, I believe that the picture was not written by Bosch, and his unknown successors in 1530-40-ies). In the Berlin art gallery you can see drawing on the same theme allegedly owned by Bosch. There are a few samples of drawings in the Louvre (1, 2). Early 2016 brought sensation: small (38 by 26 cm) the painting "Temptation of St. Anthony" of art the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas city was elevated to the status: previously it was considered an imitation, but now there is scientific reason to believe her original Bosch.

For such interest to the personality of Anthony needs to be personal reasons. And they have Bosch, of course, was: Antonis was the name of his father, and a family Church van Akanov (that was the real name of artist) in the city of den Bosch was named St. Anthony.

As in the rest of the triptychs of Bosch, external doors in "the Temptation of St. Anthony" made in monochrome grisaille technique. The left fold has received the name "The arrest of Christ in the garden Gestimarcas"right "Carrying the cross". Gospel episodes is written on the background of the traditional Flemish school Dutch landscape with rocks, lone trees, high in the sky and carefully spelled out long-range plans.

Why picturesque biography of St. Anthony, which the viewer will see when the leaf of the triptych will be revealed, preceded by scenes from the earthly life of Jesus? Because of St. Anthony (and ideally for every Christian, Christ is the measure of all things. All that will endure inside of the triptych of Saint Anthony, due to the belief in Christ and dedicated to Him. "God suffered and to us ordered"– such is in brief the Central idea of the triptych. Thus, the external doors show heaven is absolute, and the inside – the complex history of the earth following that absolute.

The sources of the plot

Saint Anthony (also known as Anthony the Great and St. Anthony) – Egyptian Christian ascetic and pustynnik III-IV centuries BC it is believed that it begins with a solitary monk. Apparently, Bosch takes the basis of "the Biography of St. Anthony written by Athanasius the Great tells what Anthony young in years he withdrew into the wilderness, in order there to indulge in Christian asceticism and prayers. In 1478, the year in the birthplace of Hieronymus Bosch, in the Netherlands the translation of the "Golden Legends" of Jacob Warynskiego is the most popular in the middle ages, compositions, teeming with colourful details from the lives of various saints. Especially bright Jacob described the temptations of Saint Anthony in heaven and on earth. There is no doubt that Bosch was familiar with this book.

To the descendants came and writings of Anthony the Great. Basically it's teachings to the monks and the rules of life. Anthony belongs to the aphorism "Does not enter Paradise he who is not tempted. Take away temptation and no one will attain salvation". These words of the ascetic – the best epigraph for the triptych by Hieronymus Bosch.

Left wing

In the lives of Anthony describes how Satan, exasperated by the extraordinary piety of the Saint, sends his Legion of demons. The demons grabbed the Saint, who was praying in a cave and tortured him until the monk fell down dead. In the lower part the left leaf at Bosch, we see the three friends in clothes, typical for the monastic order Antonito, are under the arms of an exhausted utterly Holy – the last time they managed to snatch him from the power of demons. By the way, according to some researchers, one of those people who support Anthony, you can see the artist himself.

All of this figural group is stepping on the fragile bridge of rotten planks. In other works of Hieronymus Bosch (for example, "The prodigal son" from a Museum in Rotterdam) bridge – the symbol of the vicissitudes of human life. Under the bridge is located a quiet the demons. One of them leads some correspondence, possibly, to conspire or is a denunciation. It looks like Alexander VI, who was Pope in the period from 1492 to 1503 and was considered by many the Antichrist. Bosch not once criticized the Church for laxity ("Ship of fools" etc.), but the head of the Catholics in the form of a demon, he shows for the first time.

With the two sides of pseudo-Popes are demonic birds. Great egret standing on the egg, eats its own barely hatched Chicks. Ass birds "repeats the color and shape of the hat "the Pope"– said Linda Harris, – it is obvious that this is another "gift" to the Roman Catholic Church."

Another demon in the form of a bird wearing a red cardinal's cassock, and on his head – a funnel (like that found on the head of a monk in "Extracting the stone of stupidity"), apparently symbolizing the imposture, and profanation of the truth. The demon cleric is on skates. Perhaps this is how the artist indicates its origin: in the medieval ideas about the underworld (as reflected, in particular, in the "divine Comedy" of Dante's lower circle of hell is a icy lake the Leucocytes. On the sandwiched key the sheet of paper is written the word "lazy", so that the skates can impersonate another and idleness.

In the middle part of the left leaf is portrayed in a hut formed from the spliced between the body of a giant hill, covered with greenery. Left leg of the bandaged man, which would symbolize the sin of lust. The body itself forms a brothel, which you can see the woman. The entrance to the cabin is exactly between the feet of the giant. Several devils in the Church vestments will be spent there. This allegory of Bosch is quite clear.

At the left edge of the fold two more difficult synthesized demon, one of which is a fish on wheels and with the tail of a Scorpion (fish – Christian symbol of baptism). On her back is the spire of the Cathedral. Big fish trying to swallow a smaller fish. Perhaps it describes the Church's "mergers and acquisitions" or the struggle of the official Church against heresies.

Fold the top third is devoted to the Anthony's temptation in the sky. The demons took the form of beasts, and monstrous fish torment Saint who goes out of the meditative state and does not cease to offer prayers to the sky.

Right wing

Topic the right wing of a triptych are carnal temptations, which the devil puts St. Anthony.

The sin of gluttony is embodied in the obscene meal where the base of the table form a Nude human body. Entourage (pitcher or a chamber pot, wearing, instead of shoes, a Troubadour with a strange musical instrument) recalls "The garden of earthly delights". To the right there is a leaky womb – the human stomach on legs in a red cap, pierced with a large dagger.

About temptation of the sin of voluptuousness (adultery) hagiographical literature reports that after the martyrdom of Anthony on the ground and in the sky the devil appeared to him in a female form. Holy met a beautiful Queen while she was bathing in the river. She drew Anthony his magnanimity and generosity, and brought blinded by her piety, Holy in his capital. Flight of demonic fish over city buildings, towers and mill shows the most dangerous moment, when Anthony is just about ready to give in to temptation. Holy realized with whom he was dealing, only, when the Queen tried to seduce him. At Bosch it stands naked in the water under a tree with topisomerase dry twigs surrounded by demons-to the court, a hand covering his "private parts". (A similar plot was developed and in a badly preserved work "Holy hermits").

Another reminder of the devil floating in the channel of the river dragon. It is opposed by a small human figure with a stick or spear in hand. Because the same weapon we see in the hands of Anthony in the foreground, we can conclude that in the river Bosch painted the encounter of the Holy hermit with Satan.

The Central part

In the Central part of the triptych the concentration of monsters per square inch of space reaches its climax. "With a wealth of fiction portraying a complex image of various demons, winding around the Holy, Bosch has outdone himself"– I am sure Walter Bosing, author of the book "Hieronymus Bosch. Between hell and Paradise."

Closer to the left edge of the whitish wooden stump is transformed into a torso and hands of a woman in a high peaked cap, whose torso transformirovalsya scaly tail of a lizard. Holding the hands of a child, a woman is solemnly seated a giant rat. Jug on a horse's legs borne on the back of a strange demon with a Thistle on the head (the Thistle is the symbol of original sin). Down the river floats, outstretched arms, people inside the translucent fish. Moving his gaze to the left, we find a demon with a horse's skull, playing a lute and sitting on a goose with the head of a sheep, but in human shoes. Spirits of darkness in the guise of birds, people and animals erupt from a giant red berries – a traditional symbol of evil. Higher another drevesnosloistyj monster leads the reins a strange hybrid of a dragon horses and fried poultry, strode ahead of the dogs armadillos, Peshawar with an owl (a symbol of darkness and the bird of the devil) on the head.

None of the earthly elements from Bosch is not free from monsters. Demons and swarm water, land and the sky. Where did rush those evil hordes? Obviously, the "destination" for all of them is a ruined tomb in the centre of the composition. Inside it captured the appearance of Christ pointing to his own crucifixion.

Heresy, magic, alchemy – signs of all these events are found in the Central part of the triptych. Kneeling around Anthony played the devil's mass. Woman in elaborate headdress and gives the nun the chalice with the communion. Near the table, players roll the dice, tempting fate. Hover witches, in the depths of the painting blazes torched their village. By the way, the transfer of lighting effects in this work gives the Bosch a real innovator.

"Color scheme is so harmonious and rich writes Walter Bosing, – all of these are changeable, even the most disgusting the images are visually beautiful: the triptych is one of those works of Bosch, which is the best preserved, and recent clearing has revealed all the coloristic richness of this picture, where the shining red and green colors are interspersed with finely modulated transitions bluish-green and brown".

The figure of St. Anthony is located at the intersection of the diagonals of the picture. Turning away from all that occurs around, he looks at the viewer and blesses him. The gesture Anthony repeats the gesture of Christ, standing nearby. Calm and reassuring sight brings Anthony with Christ in the paintings of Bosch "Carrying the cross" (Madrid) and "Coronation of thorns" (London). And it shows that the Holy stands in their choice, in spite of all the devil's machinations.

If side flaps showed Anthony in moments of suffering and temptation, the Central part of the triptych marks his triumph.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Northern Renaissance

Technique: Oil

Materials: Wood

Date of creation: XVI century

Size: 131.5×225 cm

Artwork in selections: 33 selections

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