La Salle University Art Museum
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The Temptation of St. Anthony

Dorothea Tanning

The Temptation of St. Anthony, 1945/46

Oil on Canvas


Temptation of St. Anthony was a contest entry for an artwork to appear in the film The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947). St. Anthony was a third-century ascetic and founder of Christian monasticism. During his seclusion, the devil besieged St. Anthony, and the ascetic withstood every temptation. Tanning depicts St. Anthony tormented by voluptuous female demons. The hallucinatory and erotic qualities of the vision are typical of Surrealist preoccupations. In this representational vein of Surrealist art, scenes that could not possibly be real — hence the designation sur-real, or more than real — are depicted in an illusionistic manner. 

Condition of the Artwork (2009): 

There are a number of small scratches and chips, especially in the lower half of the painting. Paint along some of the chips may be insecure. The paint layer is unvarnished. A light grime layer has accumulated on the paint surface. 

Conservation Treatment Proposed: 

  • Consolidate insecure paint with conservation quality materials.
  • Remove/reduce surface grime with the appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Possibly apply a very light, conservation quality varnish layer to slightly seal the paint surface and slightly saturate the paint colors, without adding gloss to the paint surface.
  • Fill and inpaint paint losses with conservation quality materials.
  • All materials used will be appropriate and conservation quality. All work will adhere to the highest standards of the field.

Conserved in 2011-2012 With Support from the Stockman Family Foundation

(See Online Exhibition of Conservation Treatments)