1) The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Joos Van
Craesbeeck 2) The Torment of Saint Anthony by Michaelangelo 3) The Meeting of Saint Anthony and Saint Paul by
Master of the Osservanza 4) Temptation of Saint Anthony by Domenicus van
Wijnen 5) The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Jan Brueghel
the Elder 6) The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Salvator Rosa 7) The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Matthias Grunewald 8) The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Martin Schongauer 9) The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch 10) The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Pieter Huys
Odilon Redon: Tentation de Saint-Antoine (The Temptation of St. Anthony), first series. Lithographies on Chine-collé, 1888.
Digging through my London notes. In the collection of the BM (<3) are these really nice lithographs by Redon, printed in 1888.
I recently learned that Redon was learned etching and engraving from none other than Rodolphe Bresdin (Bresdin, baby!). Wicked! Aaanyway, the lithos shown above (not in the correct order and lacking the title, but I don’t care) were published by Deman in Brussels, in an edition of 58 (source). Later works were published in Paris. They show the first of three series Redon did after Flaubert’s Le Tentation de Saint Antoine (fittingly also released in three or four versions before being ‘final’), and are, ofc, printed on thin asian paper mounted on rather sturdy cardboard.
The scans aren’t maybe the best ones out there (cut the BM some slack) but they give quite a good idea why Redon called his drawings “noires”. For those with shaky French, the first image shows Death cradling the Seven Deadly Sins in his arms <3. Jesus is there too, some premonitions of HR Giger and the ridiculously cute/creepy SEAHORSEDUDE watching over a flock of baby eyes.
If in London these lithographs are well worth a closer look - the way Redon worked on the stone is really nice, at times working from light to dark, then going back in and scratching things out, using crayon / ink to great effect and variety. Litho love!
RandOMG side note: Did you know that Redon and Mallarmé were friends, and even started a lithographic collaboration that never made it to the publishing stages? I didn’t, but am so hyped about that - research time!
In full split personality mode today, watching Homestory Cup VIII on stream when not comparing translations of Paul Celan’s Fadensonnen (Pierre Joris’ “Threadsuns” and, imho better, Ian Fairley’s "Fathomsuns") or re-reading Sofia Olsson’s “Det bästa barnet” because it’s so good. And trying to tumblr.
The fantastic is no longer a property of the heart, nor is it found among the incongruities of nature; it evolves from the accuracy of the knowledge, and its treasures lie dormant in documents. Dreams are no longer summoned with closed eyes, but in reading; and a true image is now a product of learning: it derives from words spoken in the past, exact recensions, the amassing of minute facts, monuments reduced to infinitesimal fragments, and the reproductions of reproductions. In the modern experience, these elements contain the power of the impossible. Only the assiduous clamor created by repetition can transmit to us what only happened once. The imaginary is not formed in opposition to reality as its denial or compensation; it grows among signs, from book to book, in the interstice of repetitions and commentaries; it is born and takes shape in the interval between books. It is a phenomenon of the library.
THE TEMPTATIONS OF SAINT LIBRARY - Michael Foucault, writing about Flaubert’s doomed novel The Temptation of Saint Anthony.
The Temptation, as it turns out, was Flaubert in full geek mode: essentially a bestiary, a compendium of creatures meticulously taxonimized and sourced out of documents, paintings, and poems. He considered it a work of the imagination, but it is, apparently, a catalogue of the creations of other creatives.
Which? Wow. I love this notion: Gustave Flaubert in a fervor, making lists of monsters, unable to control himself and just, totally, losing his way. This has happened, after all, to every writer, at one point or another. Lists! If one lists the contents of a universe, does that count as world-building? Surely, if one diagrams everything a world contains, there must be a story there, right?
Alas, no. Oh, shit, the story became a sidebar to the monsters.
I’ve not read The Temptation, but apparently it’s quite bad - over several days in 1849 Flaubert read it aloud to a group of friends, who frantically urged him to throw it in the fire. He’d been working on it feverishly for 4 years. Flaubert subsequently wrote Madame Bovary. However, he kept coming back to The Temptation (it was, after all, a Temptation), and finally, in 1874, he published it.
I’m sympathetic and charmed by the notion of Flaubert worriedly cataloguing creatures as though he was an ecologist, trapping things between pages before they got away. The same impulse haunts me, every time I search vainly for something arcane that isn’t digitized, (as I am a hopeful hunter, I regularly assume everything I’m seeking has been added to the internet, SOMEWHERE, but no. Wrong.) or think frantic thoughts about the notion of technological obscurity, the demise of discs for clouds, the nervous child in me longing for the physical comforts of a library.
Ultimately, Flaubert’s Temptation was translated into English by Lafcadio Hearn as well as being the basis shortly after its publication, for a series of magnificent lithographs by Odilon Redon. Not too shabby. The Redon illustrations are exquisite.
As for the book itself, I’m with Foucault here, in my tenderness for the tempted:
"Henceforth, the visionary experience arises from the black and white surface of printed signs, from the closed and dusty volume that opens with a flight of forgotten words; fantasies are carefully deployed in the hushed library with its columns of books, with its titles aligned on shelves to form a tight enclosure, but within confines that also liberate impossible worlds.“ - Foucault.