Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saint Anthony the Abbot in the Wilderness

Master of the Osservanza [active ca.1430-1450]
Saint Anthony the Abbot in the Wilderness, ca. 1435
Tempera and gold on wood; Overall 18 3/4 x 13 5/8 in. (47.6 x 34.6 cm); painted surface 18 1/2 x 13 1/4 in. (47 x 33.7 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum, New York

This panel belongs to a cycle of eight panels representing scenes from the life of Saint Anthony Abbot

In the lower left of the picture there was depicted a pot of gold. That detail was deleted/overpainted early on in the painting`s history.

Thus, the painting`s original and alternative title "Saint Anthony Abbot Tempted by a Heap of Gold"

That is why the sainly St Anthony is shown recoiling from something on the left hand side.

He is not afraid of the rabbit on the left hand side. This is not a forerunner of a Monty Python sketch.

He has resisted the temptation of worldly goods, Greed.

The eight panels, originally part of an altarpiece of uncertain provenance, are now divided between museums in New York, Washington, and Berlin, and the Yale University Art Gallery

Compared to the depictions by Bosch, Grünewald, Ensor and Beckmann, this depiction must rank as one of the most phantasmagorical on the theme of St Anthony and his temptations.