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The Temptation of St. AnthonyEnlarge image

The Temptation of St. Anthony, 1501-1550

Hieronymus Bosch, Follower of
Dutch, 1450 - 1516
oil on oak
26 x 19.4 cm
Gift of Mrs. Victor Lynch-Staunton, 1983, in memory of her husband
National Gallery of Canada (no. 28287)

Seeking a life of penance and contemplation, the saint has withdrawn to the wilderness only to be assailed by the devil. Anthony sits at centre, a solitary figure remote from the demons who threaten and tempt him – fantastic inversions of the order of God’s creation. A beautiful witch arises from the water before him, while devils attack the saint’s hermitage as if it were a fortress, bringing up a siege machine and scaling its walls. That battle has been lost, the building stormed; Anthony himself will resist temptation. Bosch was famed for the nightmarish fantasy and visual wit of his creatures. Hybrid assemblages of things, they are built up following a strange, only partly graspable logic that is somehow still plausible.

Provenance 

Private Collection, Spain (?) [1]

by 1926/12 – 1941/07
Friedrich Bernhard Eugen Gutmann (1886–1944), Heemstede, The Netherlands, purchased from a Private Collection in Spain [2]

1941/07 – 1964/06/24
Walter Bareiss (1919–2007), New York, USA [2]

1964/06/24 – 1983/12/12
Victor and Jeanne Lynch-Staunton, Nashville, Ontario, and Lavaltrie, Quebec, Canada [3]

1983/12/12 –
National Gallery of Canada, given in memory of her husband by Jeanne Lynch-Staunton (d. 1983) [4]

Notes 

[1] According to Max Friedländer, Friedrich Gutmann acquired the Temptation of St.Anthony from a Spanish collection [Friedländer, Max. “Die Altniederländische Malerei.” Berlin: Paul Cassirer, 1927, vol. 5, p. 150].

[2] See note [1]. Friedrich (“Fritz”) Gutmann, youngest son of Eugen Gutmann, the founder of the German “Dresdner Bank”, was a German-Jewish banker and well-known art collector. He lived in Holland and obtained Dutch citizenship in 1924. In late 1926, Gutmann lent the painting to an exhibition at the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem [“Privately owned Old Masters.” Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, Dec.18, 1926 – Jan. 15, 1927, see letter by Nico Vriend, Noord-Hollands Archief, Jan.11, 2008, NGC curatorial file], and again in 1936 to the Boymans Museum in Rotterdam [“Jeroen Bosch. Noord-Neederlandsche Primitieven.” Rotterdam: Museum Boymans, July 10 – Oct. 15, 1936, cat. no. 55]. Due to the worldwide economic depression Gutman's financial status became severely impaired by the 1930s and he sold prominent works from his large art collection. In 1942, he informed his daughter Lili Gutmann in a letter that he had shipped the “Bosch” along with other works from his collection to New York art dealer Frederic A. Stern. Lili's brother Bernard Goodman received a note from Stern on September 26, 1945: “In October 1938 and prior to September 1939 he [your late father] delivered to me for sale on his behalf five items…” As “item no. 2” Stern listed: “1 Painting: Temptation of St. Anthony by Bosch…during the month of July 1941, item 2 above [the Bosch] was sold for the agreed price of $11,000.” [Trienens, Howard J. “Landscape with Smokestacks. The Case of the Allegedly Plundered Degas.” Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2000, p. 39 and footnote no.7]. The purchaser of the painting was Walter Bareiss. In 1943, Friedrich Gutmann and his wife Louise were deported to Germany. Both perished in the Holocaust.

[2] See note [1]. Swiss-American Walter Bareiss was a businessman and avid art-collector. From January 31, 1950 to May 1, 1952, Bareiss lent The Temptation of St. Anthony to the Cleveland Museum of Art, USA [letter dated July 15, 1964, by Henry S. Francis, Curator of Painting and Prints, Cleveland Museum of Art, to Mr. Victor Lynch-Staunton, NGC curatorial file]. In 1952 it was sent to Switzerland to be exhibited in Bareiss' hometown of Schaffhausen [“Einunddreissig Gemälde des 15. bis 18. Jahrhunderts aus einer Privatsammlung.” Schaffhausen: Museum zu Allerheiligen, Sept. – Nov. 1952, cat. no.7]. In 1964, Bareiss sold the painting at Sotheby's, London, [“Important old Master Paintings.” Sotheby's, London, June 24, 1964, lot no. 120]. The London dealer Frank Partridge acquired the work on behalf of Victor Lynch-Staunton and his wife Jeanne.

[3] See note [2]. Jeanne Lynch-Staunton gave the painting to the NGC as a gift in memory of her late husband.

[4] Accession log [NGC curatorial file].

Provenance completed
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