Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Temptation of St. Anthony by Salvator Rosa and Salvador Dali's vision of it

"Keep silent unless what you are going to say is more important than silence" – Salvator Rosa

Salvator Rosa's self-portrait
 Salvator Rosa was born in Naples in 1615, and trained in the studio of the Spanish artist Juseppe de Ribera. While Rosa had a facile genius at painting, he pursued a wide variety of arts: music, poetry, writing, etching, and acting.
However, works, satires as well as the paintings of Salvator Rosa, deserve more attention than they have generally received, even today. Salvator Rosa longed to be considered a philosopher-painter, and to win a reputation for his learned representation of novel subjects.

His scenes of witchcraft reveal his interest in the irrational and less conventional intellectual preoccupations of his age. These also formed the background to his etchings, and to the satires which he wrote. Maybe the best presentation of that love for irrational and unnatural can be found on his eerie and beautiful painting, The Temptation of St. Anthony, which is one of the first paintings of that kind, representing a demon tempting or attacking St. Anthony, the demon that is uncommon to Rosa’s age and culture, kinda like he got out of a 20th century horror movie, while the director was on acid. Or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). Take a look at the masterpiece.
The Temptation of St. Anthony - Salvator Rosa (1645)

Then Salvador Dali, in 1946, almost exactly 300 years later, painted his version of what might tempted St. Anthony (He had many temptations throughout art history, unfortunately for him).

The Temptation of St. Anthony - Salvador Dali (1946)

The temptations in Dalí’s painting arrive in the form of a nightmarish parade. In this picture temptation appears to Saint Anthony first as a horse, representing strength. Then lust, represented by a nude woman balancing on a teetering pedestal. The spider-legged elephants are topped with obelisks, some may see it as phallic towers; and some sort of ornate sex palace. But it appears as though St. Anthony’s faith is about to topple them all.

Many say that Dali drew a great deal of inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch’s work, who also painted The Temptation of St. Anthony,

The Temptation of St. Anthony (Center piece) - Hieronymus Bosch (1505)

and he really found inspiration from time to time in Bosch’s work, but as I got the impression searching the internet, nobody connects Dali and Rosa, even in a sentence. In my opinion, here he used Salvator Rosa’s surreal painting as an inspiration, especially if you look at the perspective, and overall impression which both paintings give.
So, which one do you like better?
More on Dali’s life and work coming, as well.


  1. the art here is really fantastic looking

    1. Thanks Jestein! I'm glad you like it.

  2. Another great blog aneta!I never realised there was any connection between Dali and Rosa

    1. Thanks Milan, for the review and compliments!

  3. wew...awesome pics
    love them
    btw if u like maybe u can take a look on my blog

  4. I gotta say that what I see is very strange. Or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is so creepy.

  5. i love your header.:))
    and good blog.

  6. how cool :))
    And thank you <3

  7. Your completly correct in my eyes i have a poster of dalis and the legs of the demon in rosas are veryvery simar to the dali legs on the horse and elephants