Triptych of the Temptation of St Anthony
by Hieronymus BOSCH

Bosch often represented saints in landscapes charged with evil. Nowhere, however, were the vicissitudes of the spiritual life more vividly and circumstantially detailed than in the legend of St Anthony the Hermit, founder of Christian monasticism, which Bosch painted on an altarpiece now preserved in Lisbon.

Bosch was preoccupied with themes of torment and the sinfulness of man, which replaced earlier, more optimistic visions of Christ and the Virgin with feelings of anxiety, fear, and guilt. His sources for such unusual images were the dark corners of the medieval imagination, the gargoyles and monsters of cathedral decoration, and the marginal illustrations of books and popular prints.

The Lisbon triptych sums up the major themes we encounter in the art of Bosch. The spectacle of sin and folly and the shifting horrors of Hell are joined to the images of the suffering Christ and of the saint firm in his faith against the assaults of the World, the Flesh and the Devil. To an age which believed in the reality of Satan and Hell, and in the imminent appearance of Antichrist with the Last Judgment not far behind, the serene countenance of St Anthony looking at us from his haunted chapel must have offered reassurance and hope.

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Triptych of Temptation of St Anthony
Oil on panel, 131,5 x 119 cm (central), 131,5 x 53 cm (each wing)
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon

True Color
194 Kb

Tiptych of Temptation of St Anthony (outer wings)
Grisaille on panel, 131 x 53 cm
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon

True Color
185 Kb

Summary of works by Bosch
Early paintings | 7 Deadly Sins | Various panels
Garden of Earthly Delights | Haywain
Panels in Venice | Last Judgment | Various triptychs
Adoration of the Magi | Temptation of St Anthony
Page 1 | Page 2