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"Tentaciones de San Antonio Abad"

Jan Brueghel1568/1625

Museo Nacional de Escultura

Museo Nacional de Escultura

The three main events of the temptation of Saint Anthony are grouped as one in this scene by Brueghel de Velours. Like this we can find in first place, the description of a big flock of evil animals that surround him to set him on, bite him, sink their horns, tear his skin with their claws and hit him with stakes, just as described in the saint's life. He is totally absorbed in his reading and meditations, under a crude wooden cabin, and he sees himself surrounded by a great number of evil monsters where we can see the most horrendous symbiosis of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, with threatening attitudes or making horrific sounds and howls. All these evil satanic figures are symbols of the Deadly Sins and thus, represent sloth, gluttony, wrath, greed, pride, envy and especially, lust. Likewise, these revolting evil beings are symbols of the sicknesses the saint healed, mainly the plague and syphilis, as I said before. At the same time as the attacks from the diabolic monstrosities take place, the scene also represents the moment in which Saint Anthony suffers from carnal temptations, embodied by a flock of diabolic beings disguised as women. This is how, behind the saint, appears an elegant lady that leads a beautiful woman in front of the saint; the latter, dressed with the most luxurious fabrics and adorned with magnificent jewels like a princess or a queen, a figure that also refers to the vanity of mundane things that the saint despises. Behind them appears a completely naked woman that the sinister beings want to put in front of Saint Anthony so his chastity will be in danger, which they will fruitlessly try because the saint turns his back to them, taking refuge in his prayers. Lastly, in the upper right side, over a landscape of houses from a village, we can see how Saint Anthony, who is ascending to heaven, is surrounded by a legion of demons that try to make him fail in reaching his destiny.

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  • Title: "Tentaciones de San Antonio Abad"
  • Creator: Jan Brueghel
  • Date Created: 1568/1625
  • place of origin: Valladolid
  • Physical Dimensions: w243 x h160 x d9 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: CERES

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