The Temptations of St. Anthony

Jheronymus Bosch15th century

MNAA National Museum of Ancient Art

MNAA National Museum of Ancient Art
Lisbon, Portugal

Signed by Bosch, this triptych brings together the four elements of the Universe (air, earth, water and fire) making them the setting for horrendous scenes and characters.
This triptych displays the most recurrent and central theme of Bosch’s work: the temptation and loneliness of the just man when faced with evil and the diabolical which dominates the earthly world either expressly, in the form of the monstrous and the hybrid, or under the guise of a false and provocative beauty.

On the inner faces of its panels, the triptych shows three stages in the hagiography of St. Anthony, tempted and seduced by demons until he finds the path to salvation through the life of a hermit. On the outer faces of the panels, displayed when the triptych is closed, which was normally the situation in which it was found, we can see popular and non-demonic figures stirring up trouble and disturbing Christ’s journey from the prison to Mount Calvary; the monochrome nature of the painting helps to create a strange moonlit atmosphere, underlining the desolation of the landscape and accentuating the disturbing certainty of a generalised spread of evil.


  • Title: The Temptations of St. Anthony
  • Creator: Jheronymus Bosch
  • Date Created: 15th century
  • Location Created: Hertogenbosch
  • Physical Dimensions: 131.5 cm x 53 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: MNAA Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, inv. 1498 Pint
  • Medium: Oil on oak panel

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps