The temptation of sv. Antonia, David Teniers the Younger

Description of the picture:

The temptation of sv. Antonia – David Teniers the Younger. Mid 1640s. Wood, oil. 36.4×47.3

   Teniers very often turned to the plot about temptation of sv. Anthony. The Hermitage houses two works of the same name, created by the artist in the mid 1640s and early 1650s.

   On the hood of St. Anthony (in both compositions) the letter T (tau) is visible – a symbol of soul salvation and a sign of the monastic order of antonites, which was established at Clermont Cathedral in 1096. According to legend (LA, XXI, I), after the death of his parents, he distributed property to the poor, Anthony stayed in complete solitude. Due to an ascetic lifestyle, he was subject to hallucinations. In the picture of Teniers, the action takes place in a cave, where the saint is scared by the fantastic animals and monsters crawling towards him. Next to the hermit are the tempting witches: a young one with a tail visible from under her dress, and an old one with horns indicating satanic origin. Praying St. Anthony patiently waits for the terrible visions to end.

   The closest analogy, in which, with the exception of the background, is repeated the entire curly part of the Hermitage composition, – “The Temptation of St. Atonia ”at the Prado Museum, Madrid. A similar image of the cave, especially the left part with the opening, as well as a similar interpretation of some fantastic creatures (for example, a monster with a horse skull) is found in the composition of the same name from the art gallery of old masters in Dresden."