William Roberts The Temptation of St Anthony 1950–1

Artwork details

Artist
William Roberts 1895–1980
Title
The Temptation of St Anthony
Date 1950–1
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1527 x 1149 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 1998
Reference
T07391
Not on display

Display caption

Anthony, the hermit saint also known as Anthony the Great, was born in Upper Egypt. On the death of his parents he distributed his property among the poor and retired into the Egyptian desert where he remained in solitude for many years. Thus he is generally regarded as the founder of monasticism. Like other hermits, he was subject to vivid hallucinations resulting from his austere lifestyle. These visions assume two forms in art, assault by evil spirits or erotic temptation. Roberts's painting focuses on Anthony's temptation by lust. Usually Anthony protects himself with a crucifix or by prayer, but here is seen shielding himself with his arms alone, his prayer books by his side.

August 2004