Pieter Coecke van Aelst: The temptation of Saint Anthony the Great (1543-1550)

(Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain)

Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502-1550) was a Flemish artist who made works with Christian themes. This painting shows a scene from the life of Saint Anthony the Great (A.D. 251-356). Saint Anthony the Great is today known as the 'Father of All Monks'. Anthony wanted to life an ascetic life and sold all his property and donated all his money to the poor. Eventually Anthony found an old abandoned Roman in Egypt and lived there as a hermit. According to the legends Anthony had faced a series of supernatural temptations during his pilgrimage and stay in the desert in Egypt - the devil tried to tempt Anthony to abandon his pilgrimage by by afflicting him with boredom, laziness, beautiful women and demons. Anthony overcame all his trials by the power of prayer. The legend is a popular theme in Christian art a lot of artists have produced paintings about this legend. Anthony is seen here on the left with demons and a naked woman before him - all trying to tempt the saint. Painting from  1543 - 1550.