The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1945 - by Max Ernst

The Temptation of Saint Anthony is a book which the French author Gustave Flaubert spent practically his whole life fitfully working on. It is an often-repeated subject in history of art and literature, concerning the supernatural temptation reportedly faced by Saint Anthony the Great during his sojourn in the Egyptian desert. In this narrative, St. Anthony's faith triumphs over the temptations and horrors of sin and evil. The visual motifs of St. Anthony's tale has inspired countless artists to draw their worst nightmares, and became a popular theme in Western culture, both Michelangelo and Caravaggio painted their own version of Temptation of Saint Anthony.

In 1946 the David L. Loew-Albert Lewin film production company held a contest for a painting on the theme of Saint Anthony's Temptation, with the winner to be used in the film The Private Affairs of Bel Ami. Various artists produced paintings on this subject, and contest was won by Max Ernst, whose work was duly shown in the film. However, the most well-known of version of The Temptation of Saint Anthony is the version created by a failed contestant, Salvador Dali.