Just moments ago I finished up a drawing of the abbot of the desert St. Anthony. This well intentioned saint who sought to avoid worldliness and the corruption that follows only found himself in the thick of it. Anthony is my muse (as he was to Bosch, to symbolists such as Flaubert and to many Surrealists), I turn to him time and again and have lost count as to how many works I have devoted to this early father of the Church . But one attribute of the anchorite that I particularly love is the company he keeps, pigs. The pig is found in many depictions of the hermit but this is the first time I have worked one of my favorite beasties into the composition. I’m sure there will be many more.
In this depiction I tried to incorporate,in a whimsical way, classical elements to depict worldliness ; not that I feel humanism is corrupt but classical sculpture can certainly raise one’s pulse.
The Temptation of St. Anthony of the Desert (and his pig)
2016 graphite and pastel on paper
18 by 24″
My love of pigs is personal, being a vegan I have a particular attachment to this highly intelligent and sensitive creature . David sponsored a pig for me this year as a Christmas present, her name is Sweet Tea and she is well tended to by the loving folks at Ironwood Pig Sanctuary. Although I wish she lived with us we can easily visit her in Tuscon AZ, we plan on visiting her at least every boxing day. This image is from the day we first met, as you can see she is quite adorable and friendly. It is delightful how pigs rush to you when you enter their compound, ever greedy for treats and attention.
Like I mentioned Anthony is often depicted with a pig, this little gem of painting by Lelio Orsi (1511-87) is one of my favorites at the Getty, I search it out whenever I visit.
On my last visit I noticed this wee little pig pawing at the anchorite’s robe as fervently as my pug Viola.
As I mentioned I will be sure to return to Anthony time and again, my very sweet and very talented friend, the artist and musician Henry Kitchen offered to pose, sending along this funny photo. He is actually a perfect Anthony, right down to the hoodie.
I’m sure to take him up on the offer very soon.
Until then, back to painting, good night.
2 thoughts on “Temptation of St.Anthony of the Desert (a fellow and his pig)”
Tremendous post Leonard, and the background to the image, and your personal relationship to the elements in the drawing enrich my appreciation of this version of St. Anthony. And what a powerful and compelling drawing it is!
All I need now is one of your beautifully ruined hermitages!
And thanks .