Obelisk Art History
Dorothea Tanning

The Temptation of St. Anthony

The Temptation of St. Anthony, Dorothea Tanning
The Temptation of St. Anthony, zoomed in
121.4 cmThe Temptation of St. Anthony scale comparison91.2 cm
See The Temptation of St. Anthony in the Kaleidoscope

The Temptation of St. Anthony is a Surrealist Oil on Canvas Painting created by Dorothea Tanning from 1945 to 1946. It lives at the La Salle University Art Museum in the United States. The image is © DACS, 2019, and used according to Educational Fair Use, and tagged Saint Anthony and Saints.

“It seems to me that a man like our St. Anthony, with his self-inflicted mortification of the flesh, would be most crushingly tempted by sexual desires and, more particularly, the vision of woman in all her voluptuous aspects.”

“It is this phase which I have tried to depict in my painting. St. Anthony, alone in the desert, struggles against his visions; half-formed, moving in indolent suggestion, colored with the beautiful colors of sex, his desires take shape even in the folds of his own wind-tossed robes.”

– from Dorothea Tanning’s, “Statement” from the Bel Ami International Art Competition exhibition brochure, p. 28.

In 1946, Dorothea Tanning entered this painting in the Bel Ami International Art Competition, along side submissions by eleven other surrealists including Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dalí, and Max Ernst. While her husband Ernst won the competition, Tanning’s insight into the character of Saint Anthony breathes new life into a centuries-old theme in art history.

Reed Enger, "The Temptation of St. Anthony," in Obelisk Art History, Published March 19, 2019; last modified May 19, 2021, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/dorothea-tanning/the-temptation-of-st-anthony/.

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