Temptation of Saint Anthony

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Temptation of Saint Anthony (ca. 1666) by David Teniers IIMuseo de Arte de Ponce

David Teniers the Younger was one of Antwerp's most important artists. Following a decade of service to the archducal court at Brussels as both painter and keeper of collections, he returned to his natal city and opened an art acad­emy in 1665, about the same time he created this painting.

Temptation of Saint Anthony (ca. 1666) by David Teniers IIMuseo de Arte de Ponce

This painting serves as the largest and best representation of The Temptation of Saint Anthony painted by Teniers. 

The Temptation of Saint Anthony was a popular and often repeated subject in religious iconography. This scene tells the story of the supernatural temptation faced by Saint Anthony the Great during his self proclaimed exile in the Egyptian desert. 

Saint Anthony left into the wilderness to seek God. However, during his stay he faced temptation in the forms of beautiful women and demonic creatures.

Danger is not out of sight as outside a beautiful young woman with demon feet offers him a drink. This showed the viewer that temptation can be found in the most unexpected things.

The biblical figure is surrounded by demons that represent the temptations of everyday life. While trying to ignore the figures around him, St. Anthony prays his crucifix next to his vanitas skull. 

The vanitas skull represented the ephemerality of life and earthly pleasures. By focusing his attention in prayer and not the beauty of earthy pleasures tempting him, Saint Anthony reinforces his faith in God.

The scene was popular because it represented the temptations of everyday life and reminded audiences to mimic Saint Anthony’s devotion and re-enforce the trust in God to ignore temptation.

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