Other pictures
Before 1900
H. 61; L. 117; D. 70 cm
Purchased from the artist, 1903
Auguste Rodin
[Paris, 1840 - Meudon, 1917]
The Temptation of St. Anthony

On the body of a huddled man dressed in a heavy robe, a nude woman stretches herself sensuously. With his face against the ground, the monk desperately embraces the cross to escape this fleshly temptation. According to tradition, St. Anthony, who lived alone in the desert, was haunted by visions of temptresses. This episode of the hermit's life is, however, only a pretext for Rodin.

The work must be seen from all sides in order to appreciate the full impact of the psychological and physical tension of the composition. The sculptor plays with the opposition between the closed and tormented body of the saint and the nude body of the woman, voluptuously writhing and open. The holy man is almost totally concealed within his rough garments, and his head is covered with a hood. The folds of his clothing convey the tension in his body. The features of his face, pressed against the cross, indicate his internal struggle. The woman is a luminous body without a soul. The different ways the marble is sculpted recall the different steps of creation and reinforce this antagonism. On the barely finished, nearly raw base, Rodin has indicated the roughness of the woolen cloth - and of the figure - with chisel marks. A polished marble finish capturing light and soft curves is used only for the body of the woman.