Having first finished Flaubert’s The Temptation of Saint Anthony and then having gone to the Getty Centre to see the spectacular Ensor exhibition ( twice, and not at all too many visits ) where I encountered Ensor’s interpretation of the poor anchorite bedeviled by worldliness, I was inspired to paint yet another Temptation.
Flaubert’s work influenced Ensor and that is apparent, from the writhing Byzantine whirl of Temptations to the floating, glowing head of the Savior (Freud was also heavily influenced by this amazing and odd little book). If you are inclined towards visual excess as I am, Flaubert’s text offers endless inspiration. One of the many temptations that poor Anthony encounters is the personifications of Lust and Death, in Flaubert’s description they are an inseparable duo, one cannot be without the other.
I found this magnificent and horrifying, his description of the two is chilling:
Lust: “My rage equals thine. I also yell ; I bite. I too, have sweats of agony, and aspects cadaverous.”
Death: ” It is I that make thee awful! Let us intertwine!”
I love that, it is so terrible, so damned, and yet Anthony resists them and they flee.
This painting unlike the last Temptation of St. Anthony of the Desert ( link: HERE) is a small little oil painting, only 16 by 20 inches. I painted smaller frankly because I am running out of studio space and I have two other large canvases that I am working on occupying two easels .
The Temptation of Saint Anthony
oil on canvas
16 by 20 inches
I wanted to commit to grissaile which at times has been a challenge; my love of color so great. Given the theme I resisted the siren’s call.
detail of Lust and Death
I explored Lust and Death previously with my relief print Lust und Tod.
The idea of Anthony carrying the mask came from a dream, which given Freud’s love of Flaubert’s Anthony, I thought too important to omit.
I will close with this image, the handsome hermit tempting Temptation.
Be well, Lg