Henry de Groux
The Temptation of Saint Anthony
Chalk pastel on paper. 105.5 x 75 cm.
Framed under glass..
Signed lower right: Henry de Groux.
The Temptation of Saint Anthony, or “La Tentation de Saint Antoine“ was the title of a novel by Gustave Flaubert published in 1874, on which the author had worked for 25 years. Flaubert considered the piece his most important work, but it was met with disapproval and lack of understanding by many contemporaries. They criticised the equal status which Flaubert assigned to the different religions, but also the unusual style of his prose. A few years later however, the sequence of ecstatic images and symbols described in the book made it a seminal prototype for the dream literature and an important work for the development of Symbolism.
It therefore comes not as a surprise that Henry de Groux, an admirer both of Richard Wagner and Gustave Flaubert, adopted the motif of the temptation – not in the traditional Christian meaning, but as a metaphor for the challenges every human being encounters, including erotic temptations, so masterly described by Flaubert in his novel.
Dekadenz und dunkle Träume. Der Belgische Symbolismus, Nationalgalerie Berlin 2021, cat. p. 257, with ill.