“The Temptation of St. Anthony,” Jerome Bosch – Description of the picture

“The Temptation of St. Anthony,” Jerome Bosch – Description of the picture
“The Temptation of St. Anthony,” Jerome Bosch - Description of the picture - 1

  • Posted by Jerome Bosch
  • Museum: National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon
  • Year: 1505-1506

Description of the picture :

The temptation of St. Anthony is Jerome Bosch. 1505-1506. Wood, butter. 131.5 x 225 cm
   This is Bosch’s most famous and famous work after his Last Judgment. The picture is a triptych made on multi-sized wooden boards. The central part is large, almost square, two side sash – narrow and long.

   The picture uses the plot of the temptation of St. Anthony, which was widespread in the church art of that time while he was in the desert of Egypt. Triptych was bought by Portuguese scientists at the beginning of the 16th century and has since been with this country, which did not stop making more than 20 full or partial copies from it.

   The surreal perception of the world, so characteristic of Bosch’s work, has found a wide field for implementation here. In the central part of the triptych, the actual temptation of St. Anthony, there is nothing familiar with previous samples of medieval painting. The picture is filled with strange, monstrous and not always understandable images, especially from the point of view of modern man. In our opinion, too complex “multi-story” symbolism is used here, although for a medieval resident with his deep immersion in religion, Bosch images could well be close and understandable. Like St. Anthony, people of that time were attacked everywhere by demons tempting them with flesh, food, wealth, power and other sinful things in their understanding.

   The left trick of the triptych depicts the flight and fall of St. Anthony. At the top of the picture is a saint who is dragged into the sky by demons in a variety of repulsive images. Below we already see the result – the fall of St. Anthony, who is carefully raised by representatives of the monastic order named after him. And around this group demons frolic in a variety of grotesque images, and other symbolic figures and images are also depicted.

   The right sash is the vision of St. Anthony. In the desert, he was a seductive temptress, naked, barely covered with his own palm. But she is not the only representative of the other world here trying to lead a person astray. Around the saint is again full of small ugly demons who are trying in every way to seduce him. But Anthony is immersed in reading the Holy Scriptures and looks at the surrounding monsters with bewilderment and misunderstanding. His world is within himself, he is a highly spiritual person who has renounced earthly abomination.