James Ensor. Tribulations of Saint Anthony. 1887

James Ensor

Tribulations of Saint Anthony

1887

Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
46 3/8 x 66" (117.8 x 167.6 cm)
Credit
Purchase
Object number
1642.1940
Copyright
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SABAM, Brussels
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is on view on Floor 5, in a Collection Gallery, with 19 other works online.
James Ensor has 51 works online.
There are 2,308 paintings online.

One of Ensor's earliest fantastical paintings, this work recreates the familiar story of Saint Anthony battling a world of temptations (embodied by the woman at the far left). Ensor described his version of the narrative as one in which "the bizarre prevails" as Hell expels menacing sea creatures and grotesque monsters haphazardly joined together within a colorful, loosely rendered landscape.

Inspired by earlier renditions of the story by Flemish artists Hieronymus Bosch (Netherlandish, 1453–1516) and Pieter Brueghel (Flemish, 1525–1569), Ensor brought a fresh interpretation to a familiar subject by combining invented figures with wild brushstrokes and audacious color choices. On the basis of this painting, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the founding director of The Museum of Modern Art, described Ensor as possibly "the boldest living painter" in 1887.

Gallery label from James Ensor, June 28–September 21, 2009

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Herbert von Garvens-Garvensburg, Hanover, Germany; later Bornholm, Denmark. By 1922 – 1940
Karl Nierendorf Gallery, New York. Agent for von Garvens, 1940
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from Nierendorf, 1940

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Licensing of MoMA images and videos is handled by Art Resource (North America) and Scala Archives (all other geographic locations). All requests should be addressed directly to those agencies, which supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.