Our composition is a work from the workshop of Frans II Francken, of which we know three other versions: the first, autograph, is listed in Ursula Härting's monograph under number 249 page 300 - oil on copper 70 x 88 cm, the second, attributed to the master was sold in 2010 in Paris - oil on copper 55.5 x 72 cm, and the last, a studio work from a prestigious Pau collection, was sold last fall at a price of € 63,960 - oil on copper 53.5 x 72 cm (Cf Gazette Drouot).
Saint-Antoine is shown kneeling studying the Holy Scriptures. He is surrounded by monstrous and noisy imaginary creatures who seek to distract him from his reading. All earthly pleasures, a source of pleasure, are suggested to him: a temptress introduces him to a young woman who brandishes a glass of wine, another offers him jewelry and pieces of silverware, a man hands out a pie and a figure with a figure simian smokes a pipe. The procession of creatures on the right of the composition seems to give a cacophonous concert. And as if to suggest the victory of the Evil One, a church is in flames in the background. But with a blessing gesture, Antoine rejects all these temptations, it is the triumph of reason.
The life of Saint Anthony, considered the father of Christian monasticism, is told to us in the story of Athanasius of Alexandria around 360. Born in Egypt in the ancient city of Herakleopolis Magna around the year 251, he would have been extinct at the age of 105. Coming from a family of rich farmers and a fervent Christian, Antoine distributes all his goods to the poor and devotes his time to prayer and to the study of the holy texts. Seeing his isolation disturbed by his many disciples, he retired to the desert where, like Christ before him, he resisted the temptations to which the Devil subjected him.
The work is presented in a powerful 17th century Spanish carved gilt wood frame and black rechampi.
Dimensions: 56 x 73 cm the view - 79 X 95 with the frame
Frans II Francken or Frans Francken the Younger (Antwerp 1581 - Id. 1641). Son of Frans I and brother of Hieronymus II and Ambrosius II, he is the most famous of the Francken dynasty. Excellent in the most diverse genres, he specializes in small and medium format painting (also known as cabinet painting) and that Rubens called the "cose piccole". He painted numerous biblical, mythological and historical scenes in which he depicted compact crowds according to the rule of isocephaly. Pushing the glazing technique to perfection, he achieves a delicacy of nuances and fluidity effects which give all their interest to the background figures. The greatest Flemish artists call on his talent, we thus find the virtuoso groups of Francken in the landscapes of Abraham Govaerts, Joos de Momper or Jan Brueghel I and II, in the architectures of Bartholomeus van Bassen, Pieter Neeffs I or even Hendrick van Steenwijck to name a few.