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Temptation of St. Anthony

Salvador Dali • Painting, 1946, 89.5×119.5 cm
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About the artwork
This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Allegorical scene
Style of art: Surrealism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1946
Size: 89.5×119.5 cm
Content 18+
Artwork in collection: Smart and Beautiful Natalya Kandaurova
Artwork in selections: 37 selections

Description of the artwork «Temptation of St. Anthony»

The Temptation of St. Anthony Dali wrote for the contest. In 1945, the filming of the film “Personal affairs of a dear friend”, the film adaptation of the famous novel by Guy de Maupassant, began. The filmmakers turned to twelve contemporary artists with a proposal to paint a picture of the temptations of St. Anthony, which should appear in the film. Victory and a fee of $ 2,500 receivedMax Ernst with his The Temptation of St. Anthony. And besides, stellar 8 seconds, during which the canvas appears on the screen - the only color element in a black and white film. Everyone else, including Dali, was supposed to pay $ 500 for participating in the competition. Among the participants were still Stanley Spencer, Paul Delvaux. Heresuch there was a competitive work Dorothea Tuning, butsuch - Leonora Carrington.

Why Max Ernst won the competition is understandable: perhaps he alone was able to raise the level of horror and demonic presence in this story to Bosch. Anthony's immobilized body, attacked by small greedy demons, his head, wrapped in a cloth of his own clothes, create a suffocating impression. But why did not Dali defeat?

The plot of St. Anthony is the well-known story of a hermit who was attacked by demons for many nights in a deserted desert, not stinting at temptations and trying to find the limits of his righteousness, a vulnerable spot, a blow to which will prove the infinite power of the devil and the inevitable weakness of even the most faithful person in the faith. The most famous, canonical image of the temptations of Anthony the Great in art is triptych Jerome Bosch.

But if Bosch, the same Max Ernst, arranges a true coloristic hell on his canvases, populates him with demons, menacing rocks and terrifying architecture, the main horror of St. Anthony in Dali is the bare desert. Nowhere to wait for help, nowhere to hide.

The irreality of what is happening is not so deliberate. The usual order of things is violated only by thin spider legs, on which the horse and elephants move threateningly. The symbols of the temptations that they carry on their backs, at first glance, do not even look dangerous. Rather, they resemble gifts from the kings of exotic countries. Temptation is easy to recognize when it comes in the form of a hideous, slippery, multi-eyed demon with awesome claws. And it’s not easy when outlandish animals carry fancy golden bowls and buildings on their backs.

A naked woman in a golden bowl is, of course, a symbol of voluptuousness and carnal temptation. And the second elephant, together with the obelisk, which he carries on his back, acts as a symbol of strength and power. This is a clear allusion to the real sculpture of Lorenzo Bernini, installed in Rome: an obelisk on the back of an elephant. They didn’t even have to invent anything - a ready-made image, as if it had come up from a dream, and besides, it had accumulated meanings and reputation over the centuries. He loved when such crazy images were found in the middle of real life. This elephant was swimming already on the horizon in his picture"A dream inspired by the flight of a bee ..."

For 8 seconds of screen time allotted for the competitive picture, the viewer would hardly have been imbued with the horror of the naked, defenseless Anthony and deciphered the message of Dali. His paintings always require a long and active examination. And just in this he is much closer to Bosch.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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