Toledo Museum Home

The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Abraham Blooteling
Dutch, 1640–1690
After Camillo Procaccini
Italian, 1555–1629

The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Mezzotint, late 1600s
William J. Hitchcock Fund in memory of Grace J. Hitchcock, 1993.83

According to legend, the early Christian saint Anthony received vivid hallucinations from the devil in an effort to tempt the hermit to renounce his faith. The subject became a popular one in art, often depicted as a supernatural struggle with evil. Here Saint Anthony lies on his side, twisting to confront the forces surrounding him. He is being held down. As he attempts to raise himself, his tormentors—demonic creatures wielding clubs, chains, and burning torches—bear down upon him.

Camillo Procaccini was an Italian painter and etcher from Bologna who lived and worked in Milan. Abraham Blooteling’s interpretation of Procaccini’s design fully exploited the ability of the mezzotint to render extreme contrasts of light and dark (tenebrism), a hallmark of Baroque style.