David Teniers II


Mid 1640s
Wood (oak), oil. 22.2 x 16.7 cm
Below, on the left, there is a monogram on the stone.

Comparisons with dated works by Teniers suggest that the work was painted in the mid-1640s: the luminous taupe tones with accents of deep red and blue are typical of the period. This particular composition was apparently successful, since several other versions and copies of varying levels of quality are known. The famous art critic John Smith, who lived in the 19th century, describing this painting in his “Album-catalogue of the works of the most outstanding Dutch, Flemish and French artists” (J. Smith, A Catalog Raisonne etc., London, 1842) notes that it “was written with amazing mood and delicacy of touch."

Since the Middle Ages, St. Anthony was worshiped as a moral example for Christians and sought to be emulated. St. Anthony was born in Upper Egypt in 251 and came from a noble Christian family. At the age of twenty, he renounced all earthly possessions and retired to the desert, where he lived for many years alone. There, according to legend, he devoted his life to self-denial and asceticism, resisting the temptations of Satan and his demons.

Temptation of St. Antony was a popular subject among Flemish painters of the 16th and 17th centuries. The pictorial tradition dates back to the strange and wonderful images of Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516) and continues in the work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30 - 1569) and his son Jan Bruegel the Elder (1568-1625). Beginning in the 1630s, the theme of depictions of demons attacking St. Antonia, actually becomes the personal specialty of David Teniers the Younger, and throughout his entire career as a painter he constantly returns to it, creating countless inventive variations. Without a doubt, the attractiveness of the plot is due to the presence of fantastic elements in the story, which allow the artist to indulge in flights of imagination and at the same time convey a moral message: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation during the trial: he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” .

The Rt. Hon Charles Alexander de Calonne;
Skinner & Dyck, London, 23 March 1795;
M. Zachary;
Christie's, London, 30-31 March 1838, lot no. 34 (sold for 98 guineas to Lord Landsdowne);
In the possession of Thomas Agnew & Sons, London;
Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, 7th Baron Greenock and Blackhall (Michael Shaw-Stewart, 7th Bt. of Greenock and Blackhall, 1826-1903);
By right of inheritance it was in Fonthill by the third son of baronet Walter Richard Shaw-Stewart (Waltera Richard Shaw-Stewart, 1861-1934) and his second daughter Irene Beatrice, wife of foreman Reginald Gordon Ward Rimmington Rimmington).

J. Smith, A Catalog Raisonne etc., London, 1842, IX, p. 409, no. 12