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There are several different versions of this sculpture that all derive from around the end of the 19th century, when the design was originally completed by Auguste Rodin. The best known of these can be found in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon.
The layout found here features a frightened man huddled down whilst a lady stretches across him. It is the perfect display of temptation. St Anthony was a monk who in this example is hoping the cross can give him strength against these feelings. Rodin includes the cross within this sculpture. There is a beautiful sense of tension within this creation, which also requires you to study it from different angles in order to understand the dilemna being experienced by St Anthony.
The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon lists their piece as having been completed in 1900. It is entirely in marble, though the base is relatively rough and incomplete which is a style taken from the work of Michelangelo, of whom Rodin was a great admirer. This complex design needs to really be seen from several different angles in order to understand just what is going on and the advantage of sculpture is that that is entirely possible. There is also a plaster version to be found in the collection of the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco and this sculptor continues to enjoy an international reputation, such was the importance of his work to the development of the medium of sculpture. Visitors to the Lyon marble sculpture will also be able to see some other impressive artworks within this building, covering a variety of different mediums. Highlights include The Flight into Egypt by Nicolas Poussin, The Monomania of Envy by Theodore Gericault, The Grand Canal by Canaletto and also Bathsheba at her Bath by Paolo Veronese.
The Temptation of St Anthony has been used in the careers of many artists over the centuries, with a variety of interpretations being found. One of the older would be Bosch's Triptych of the Temptation of St Anthony, with Dali much later bringing us his own Surrealist version of The Temptation of St. Anthony. Aside from these, there have been many more besides, with most appearing during the Renaissance and Baroque eras in which these types of themes were at their most prominent. The story goes that St. Anthony, lived by himself in the desert, and was haunted by visions of temptresses, which would allow artists an access to some highly dramatic emotional scenes for their work and so it is unsurprising that many decided to create their own versions along this well known theme. Rodin himself focused on emotion within many of his sculptures, see also The Cry, for example.