As well as portraits, still lifes and landscapes, Corinth painted many mythological and religious subjects throughout his career. This work is closely based on an episode in Flaubert's book of the same title, in which St Anthony is tempted by the Queen of Sheba. She appears before him with a train of exotic attendants, including an elephant, camels and women astride piebald horses. Professional models posed for Corinth, including a wrestler for the figure of St Anthony. Corinth frequently painted several versions of his subjects, often years apart. His first version of this theme was painted in 1897 and is more conventional, depicting an aged hermit tormented by naked women.