Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Example of St Anthony

Martin Schongauer, (1435-1491)
The Temptation of St Anthony (The saint tormented by devils), 1470s
Copperplate engraving
312mm x 230mm
The British Museum, London

The Life of St Anthony the Abbot is known through the biography of Athanasius of Alexandria written about 356 to 362

Athanasius`s book in translation can be accessed here.

The stories have inspired great works of art and literature.

This interpretation by Schongauer was renowned and copied endlessly by contemporaries and beyond.

Michelangelo as a boy was said to have copied it in colour, and Dürer re-used the figure of the devil with a club above Anthony in one of his greatest engravings, Knight, Death and the Devil.

In about 1512, Antonite monks at the hospital in nearby Isenheim commissioned their great altarpiece of the Crucifixion by Matthias Grünewald which includes a panel of the same scene.