♣ No. III ~ La Tentation De Saint Antoine

Without any nonsense-i-cal ramblings  – this week’s artist is Félicien Rops.

Félicien Rops (1833 – 1898)

For those of you who don’t know who he is/was,  Rops was a Belgian artists, as well as print-maker in etching and aquatint. He was born on July 7th, 1833 in Namur. He was a freemason as well as a member of the Grant Orient of Belgium. Also, he was one of the founding members of Société Libre des Beaux-Arts of Brussels (Free Society of Fine Arts, 1868 – 1876) and Les XX (The Twenty, which was formed in 1883).

He married Charlotte Polet de Faveaux in 1857 and had two children: Juliette and Paul. Juliette died at a young age.

Though, his marriage didn’t last, and he then decided to move to Paris in 1874 where he lived with the Duluc sisters: Léontine and Aurélie Duluc. He had one daughter, Claire, with Léontine Duluc. Claire then married a Belgian author called Eugène Demolder.

In 1892, Rops’s eyesight began to fail, but he still kept up his literary associations util his death.

Like many authors who had their poetry illustrated by him, Rops’s work tends to lean towards specific symbolic themes, such as sex, death, skeletons, the prostitute, and Satanic images. He was known to be the lover of the “fantastic” and the “supernatural”. His paintings reflect his beliefs; that women dominated men, and that the devil dominated women. So, his idea of the woman is the she’s Satan’s accomplice, she provokes the most extreme vices and torments in man.

Rops died on August 23, 1898 at the age of 65 in Essonnes (Today known as Corbeil-Essonnes).

This week’s painting is going to be one of my favorite works by this great artist. Introducing:

La Tentation De Saint Antoine (1878)
Technique: Etching and aquatint, 73.8 x 54.3 cm
[Style: Symbolism]

Luckily, I’ve found a quote by Sigmund Freud concerning this particular painting, where he says, “more suggestively than all the explanation in the world, a well-known print by Félicien Rops illustrates this little noticed fact, on which, however, is worthy of the keenest attention: the artist has represented the type case of repression in saints and penitents.” He also said, “the engraver has chosen the model case of withdrawal into the life of saints and penitents. An ascetic monk takes refuge – probably escape worldly temptations – near the image of the crucified Savior. This cross fades like a shadow and in its place the radiant image of a naked woman in full bloom, takes its place, also in the shape of a crucifixion. Other painters, whose psychological insight was not as penetrating, positioned their analogous representations of temptation, with sin insolent and triumphant, somewhere alongside the Savior on the Cross. Only Rops made it take the place of Our Lord Himself on the Cross; he seemed to know that the repressed thought returns at the very moment of its repression…”

Now, let’s go to the meaning part. Obviously, this painting has one meaning, which is very easy to understand; the good and religious Saint Anthony gets pursued by his lustful visions, and at the same time, Satan (which is represented by the red monk) plays “dirty” tricks on him. What he does is that he removes Christ from the cross and replaces him with a beautiful and seducing maiden. Also, Rops explains later on that there is no attack on religion or any eroticity. It’s just a beautiful maiden, like any other… He goes into details more and explains that what Satan is trying to prove to St. Anthony that he’s mad for worshiping his own abstractions. He, further more, talks about how St. Anthony’s eyes may no longer “search in the blue depths for the face of Christ, nor for incorporeal virgins”. He added that Jesus and Jupiter didn’t carry off eternal wisdom, nor Mary and Venus eternal beauty. And even if the gods are gone, the woman remains, for her love remains and with that happening, the love of life will always be present.


~ by Núr on August 4, 2012.

One Response to “♣ No. III ~ La Tentation De Saint Antoine”

  1. Very interesting! I hadn’t heard of Rops before. Dali and Ernst both painted their own Temptations of St Anthony- well worth seeking out if you don’t already know them.


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