Catalogue entry

Lovis Corinth 1858-1925

N04831 The Temptation of St Anthony after Gustave Flaubert 1908

Inscribed 'Lovis Corinth 1908' b. towards l.
Oil on canvas, 53 1/4 x 78 7/8 (135.5 x 200.5)
Presented by Erich Goeritz 1936
Prov: With Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin; Oscar Schmitz, Dresden; with Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 1912; Rothermundt, Dresden; D. Leder, Berlin; with or through Wolfgang Gurlitt, Berlin; Erich Goeritz, Berlin and London, 1919
Exh: Berliner Secession, Berlin, April-June 1908 (39, repr.) as 'Die Versuchung des heil. Antonius nach Gustave Flaubert'; XIV. Jahrgang, v. Ausstellung, Paul Cassirer, Berlin, January-February 1912 (10); Lovis Corinth, Paul Cassirer in the rooms of the Secession, Berlin, January-February 1913 (122, repr.); XIII Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia, Venice, April-October 1922 (Germany 3); Corinth-Ausstellung, National-Galerie, Berlin, June-October 1923 (69); Lovis Corinth, Nationalgalerie, Berlin, January-June 1926 (142); Lovis Corinth, Kunstverein, Kassel, September-October 1926 (31); Lovis Corinth: Gedächtnis-Ausstellung, Sächischer Kunstverein, Dresden, January-March 1927 (52, repr.); Lovis Corinth, Kunsthalle, Basle, March-April 1936 (25); Lovis Corinth: Gedächtnis-Ausstellung, Stadthalle, Wolfsburg, May-June 1958 (68); Lovis Corinth, Tate Gallery, January-February 1959 (26); Lovis Corinth, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, December 1967-January 1968 (no catalogue); Germany in Ferment, Dunelm House, Durham, October-November 1970 (11); Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, November-December 1970 (11); Leicester Art Gallery, December 1970 (11)
Lit: Georg Biermann, Lovis Corinth (Bielefeld and Leipzig 1913), pp.85-8, repr. pl.89; Charlotte Berend-Corinth, Die Gemälde von Lovis Corinth (Munich 1958), No.351, pp.98-9, repr. p.468
Repr: Die Kunst, XXIII, 1908, p.419; Studio, XLIV, 1908, p.151

This picture, sometimes known simply as 'The Temptation of St Anthony', was first exhibited at the Berlin Secession of 1908 under the title 'The Temptation of St Anthony after Gustave Flaubert'. It is closely based on an episode in Flaubert's La Tentation de Saint-Antoine, in which St Anthony is tempted by the Queen of Sheba, who appears before him with a train of exotic attendants, including an elephant, camels and women astride piebald horses. Thomas Corinth (letters of 9 July and 19 August 1954) said that it was executed in Corinth's studio in the Handelstrasse, Berlin, and was painted from professional models except that the artist's wife posed for the arm and hand with rings only of the female figure in the centre (the Queen of Sheba herself). Uli Nimptsch told the compiler that the model for St Anthony was a wrestler, who later posed for him. Corinth also made an etching after this picture in 1919 (K. Schwarz, Das graphische Werk von Lovis Corinth, Berlin 1922, No.353).

This was his second composition of 'The Temptation of St Anthony'. The earlier picture, painted in 1897, is more conventional in treatment and shows the saint as an aged hermit tormented by naked women. It now belongs to the Bayerische Staatsgemälde-Sammlungen, Munich.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.131-2, reproduced p.131