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The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Dorothea Tanning

The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Dorothea Tanning
  • Date: 1945
  • Style: Surrealism
  • Genre: religious painting
  • Media: oil

This painting was created for the Bel Ami International Art Competition, in which paintings of The Temptation of St. Anthony were submitted for a cash prize and inclusion in "Bel Ami," a 1947 Loew-Lewin film based on Guy de Maupassant's novel The Private Affairs of Bel Ami. Eleven American and European Artists participated, including Ivan Albright, Eugene Berman, Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dalí, Paul Delvaux, Max Ernst, O. Louis Gugliemi, Abraham Rattner, Horace Pippin, Sydney Spencer, and Dorothea Tanning. The competition was juried by Marcel Duchamp, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and Sidney Janis, and won by Max Ernst. In the exhibition brochure Tanning writes: "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."

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