Sunday, 17 January 2021

temptation of saint anthony

Venerated on this day, itinerant and chief amongst the Desert Fathers, Saint Anthony of Alexandria, has had his enduring supernatural visitation during his sojourn through the wilderness of eastern Egypt depicted in many forms, giving way to lurid and bizarrely embellished interpretations beginning in medieval times up to the present day with greater emphasis on the mental states of individuals over demonic temptation.
One of the most iconic portrayals, aligned with the fantastic and nightmarish landscapes of Hieronymus Bosch (previously) is the 1650 work by Flemish painter Joos van Craesbeeck of Brabant, who had produced many a quick and circumspect study of the dissolute and down-and-out with his cautionary tavern scenes. A colossal screaming head—that resembles Craesbeecck’s self-portraits, spews forth an allegory of obscenities, the meanings lost to the ages and the symbolism subject to guesswork whilst Anthony calmly is seen on shore trying to keep his sanity.