Overview

Legends of Anthony Abbot relate how the pious early Christian, forsaking society, journeyed into the wilderness to seek God. Anthony appears twice in this painting; in his foreground retreat, he resists the Devil's manifold temptations. After failing to yield to the evil lures, he is shown again being physically tortured while carried aloft by demons. Yet, the saint was saved by the purity of his soul.

The religious subject is presented in a revolutionary fashion; generations of earlier artists had tended to treat landscape as an unobtrusive backdrop of secondary importance, whereas now the landscape dominates the subject to such an extent that the temptation of Saint Anthony seems only incidental. This change of emphasis marks an important advance toward the development of pure landscape painting, in which Pieter Bruegel the Elder was an instrumental figure. Already, that delight in the natural world is apparent here in the shadowy depths of leafy forests, contrasting with open vistas of waterways, villages, and towns bathed in pearly light.

Perhaps the juxtaposition of a peaceful landscape with the temptations and attacks of demons was a subtle statement by this Bruegel follower on the political and moral brutalities of his time. Possibly Saint Anthony is meant allegorically to represent Everyman caught up in a world gone mad.

Inscription

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Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Private collection, Brussels. (Robert Frank, London, by 1935);[1] (M. Knoedler & Co., New York, on consignment from Robert Frank, 1937-1945; owned with Pinakos [Rudolf Heinemann], 1945-1950);[2] purchased 1950 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1952 by exchange to NGA.

Exhibition History

1935
De Van Eyck à Bruegel, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, 1935, no. 16, as Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
1935
Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Bruxelles. Cinq Siécles d'Art, Brussels, 1935, no. 151, as Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
1943
An Exhibition of Paintings by Living Masters of the Past, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1943, no. 9, as Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
1944
8 Masterpieces of Painting, Portland Art Museum, 1944, not paginated, as Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
1948
Themes and Variations in Painting and Sculpture, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1948, no. 98, as Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Bibliography

1924
Friedländer, Max J. Die altniederländische Malerei 14 vols. 1924-1937. Leiden, 1937: 14:11-12, 58, no. 5, pl. 5. (English ed., 14 vols., 1967-1976. Leiden, 1976: 14:18, 42, no. 5, pl. 5.)
1932
Glück Gustav. Bruegels Gemälde. Vienna, 1937: 15-16, 27, 40, no. 6a. repro.
1935
Friedländer, Max J. "Review of Bruegel's Gemälde by Gustav Glück." The Burlington Magazine 67 (1935): 90.
1935
Glück, Gustav. "Über einige Landschaftsgemälde Pieter Bruegels des Älteren." Jb Wien N.F. 9 (1935): 151-157, 161-162, pl. 3, 154, fig. 105.
1935
Puyvelde, Leo van. "Zwei Gemälde von Pieter Bruegel d.Ä." Pantheon 15 (1935): 47-50, repros. 47, 49, facing 47.
1935
Tolnay, Charles de. Pierre Bruegel l'Ancien. Brussels, 1935: 96, no. 54.
1936
Glück Gustav. Das Bruegel Buch. Vienna, 1936: 9-10, no. 4, repro. (Also eds. 1941, 1951).
1936
Glück Gustav. Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Paris, 1936: 11, 23, no. 3, repro.
1937
Raczynski, Joseph Alexander. Die flämische Landschaft vor Rubens. Frankfurt, 1937: 53.
1938
Jedlicka, Gotthard. Pieter Bruegel. Der Maler in seiner Zeit. Erlenbach, 1938: 540.
1938
Wetering, Cornelis van de. Die Entwicklung der niederländischen Landschaftsmalerei vom Anfang des 16. Jahrhunderts bis zur Jahrhundertmitte. Berlin, 1938: 66, pl. 456.
1951
Frankfurter, Alfred. "Interpreting Masterpieces. Twenty-four Paintings from the Kress Collection." Art News 50 (1951): 115-116, repro. 110.
1951
Frankfurter, Alfred. "Washington: Celebration Evaluation." Art News 50 (April, 1951): 31, 62, repro.
1951
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection Acquired by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation 1945-1951. Introduction by John Walker, text by William E. Suida. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1951: 204, no. 90., repro., as Landscape with the Temptation of St. Anthony Abbot.
1952
Castelli, Enrico. Il Demoniaco nell'Arte. Milan and Florence, 1952: 67, 69, pl. 42.
1952
Frankfurter, Alfred M. "Interpreting Masterpieces: Twenty-four Paintings from the Kress Collection." Art News Annual 16 (1952): 115-116, repro. 110.
1953
Genaille, Robert. Brugel l'Ancien. Paris, 1953: 82, pl. 51.
1954
Hoogewerff, G.J. Het Landschap van Bosch tot Rubens. Antwerp, 1954: 48-49.
1956
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 38, repro., as Landscape with the Temptation of Saint Anthony Abbot by Bruegel.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 136
1959
Delevoy, Robert. Bruegel. Geneva, 1959: 31-32, 39, repro.
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 291, repro., as by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder.
1960
Broadley Hugh T. Flemish Painting in the National Gallery of Art (Booklet no. 5 in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC). Washington, 1960: 8, 32-33, color repro.
1960
The National Gallery of Art and Its Collections. Foreword by Perry B. Cott and notes by Otto Stelzer. National Gallery of Art, Washington (undated, 1960s): 6.
1961
Denis, Valentin. All the Paintings of Pieter Bruegel. New York, 1961: 45.
1961
Seymour, Charles. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 92, repro. pl. 84, color repro. pl. 85
1962
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, New York, 1962: 76, color repro.
1962
Puyvelde, Leo van. La peinture flamande au siècle de Bosch et Breughel. Paris, 1962: 118, 132, pl. 40.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 128, repro. 129.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 21, as by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:100-101, color repro., as by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture: Illustrations (Companion to the Summary Catalogue, 1965). Washington, 1968: 14, repro., as by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
1968
Klein, H. Arthur, and Mina Klein. Peter Bruegel the Elder. Artist of Abundance. New York, 1968: 184.
1969
Classens, Bob, and Jeanne Rousseau. Our Bruegel. Antwerp, 1969: 229-230, fig. 7.
1969
Roberts-Jones, Philippe. Bruegel, le peintre et son monde. Brussels, 1969: 47, no. 5, repro.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue (National Gallery of Art). Washington, 1975: 116-117, no. 1102, repro., as by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: fig. 191.
1977
Eisler, Colin. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977: 93-96, figs. 91-92, as Landscape with the Temptation of St. Anthony Abbot, Attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
1977
Pope-Hennessy, John. "Completing the Account." Review of Colin Eisler, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, London 1977. Times Literary Supplement no. 3927 (17 June 1977).
1980
Unverfehrt, Gerd. Hieronymus Bosch: Die Rezeption seiner Kunst im frühen 16. Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1980: 184.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 70, repro.
1986
Hand, John Oliver and Martha Wolff. Early Netherlandish Painting. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1986: 29-33, repro. 31.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 47, repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 120-121, no. 91, color repro.

Conservation Notes

The panel consists of two boards whose grain runs horizontally. A split along the join line of the boards has been repaired across the center with a wide fill. This damage may have occurred prior to 1935, when the painting apparently fell off a wall.[1] A strip of wood 1.3 cm wide has been added to the top of the painting. With the exception of the center split and the top edge, the painting is relatively free of inpainting. There is some retouching along the edges. A dendrochronological examination by Josef Bauch in 1977 suggested that 1543 +x/-2 was the earliest possible felling date. Infrared reflectography discloses underdrawing in the trees and other portions of the landscape, but none apparently in the figures. The painting received minor treatment in 1965, 1968, 1977, and 1982. \r
[1]Puyvelde 1935, 17.

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