Oil on copper.
Our composition is a work from the studio of Frans II Francken of which three other versions are known: 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 third, a studio work from a prestigious collection in Pau, was sold last autumn for €63,960 - oil on copper 53.5 x 72 cm (cf. Gazette Drouot).
Saint Antony is shown on his knees studying the Holy Scriptures. He is surrounded by monstrous and noisy imaginary creatures that seek to distract him from his reading. All earthly pleasures, the source of voluptuousness, are suggested to him: a temptress presents him with a young woman brandishing a glass of wine, another offers him jewels and pieces of silverware, a man hands him a pie and a character with a simian figure smokes a pipe. The procession of creatures on the right of the composition seems to be giving 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 gesture of blessing, Antony repels all these temptations, it is the triumph of reason.
The life of Saint Anthony, considered the father of Christian monasticism, is recorded in the account of Athanasius of Alexandria around 360. Born in Egypt in the ancient city of Herakleopolis Magna around the year 251, he died at the age of 105. Born into a family of rich farmers and a fervent Christian, Antony distributed all his possessions to the poor and devoted his time to prayer and the study of the holy texts. Seeing his isolation disturbed by his many disciples, he withdrew into 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 frame of gilded carved wood and black rechampi.
Dimensions: 56 x 73 cm unframed – 79 X 95 with 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. He excelled in a wide range of genres, specialising in small and medium-sized paintings (also known as cabinet paintings), which Rubens called the "cose piccole". He painted numerous biblical, mythological and historical scenes in which he represented compact crowds according to the rule of isocephaly.
Pushing the technique of glazing to perfection, he achieved a delicacy of nuance and fluidity of effect that made the figures in the background so interesting.
The greatest Flemish artists called on his talent, and Francken's virtuoso groups can be found in the landscapes of Abraham Govaerts, Joos de Momper and Jan Brueghel I and II, in the architecture of Bartholomeus van Bassen, Pieter Neeffs I and Hendrick van Steenwijck, to name but a few.
Sold with invoice and certificate