Miguel Ximenez, God the Father and Saints Crushing Demons, ca. 1490; tempera on panel, 37 1/4 x 26 1/2 in. framed.
Master of the Osservanza, Temptation of Saint Anthony Abbot, ca. 1435-40; tempera on panel, 14 1/2 x 15 in.
Here the devil has appeared in the guise of a beautiful woman to tempt Saint Anthony. I had forgotten that Yale owns this painting, one of my favorites of a favorite artist. I love the way the Master uses clear, crisp forms and punctuated bright color.
Temptation of Saint Anthony, detail
The disturbed facial expression of Anthony, his lifted hand, show his quiet resistance. The landscape is dry and bare, with a river of rocks flowing down hill.
Sano di Pietro, Saint Anthony Abbot Tormented by Demons, ca. 1435-40; tempera on panel, 18 11/16 x 13 1/2 in.
The works of the Master of the Osservanza were once thought to be by Sassetta, but from this painting we can see they might have also been assigned to Sano di Pietro. Poor Saint Anthony is here being beaten by devils with fearsome faces.
Jan Brueghel the Elder, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1594; oil on copper; detail.
To continue the Saint Anthony theme in a later painting, here is a crowd of devilishness and temptation (click on images to enlarge, as always). I can almost hear the raucous noise of all those strange, nasty creatures.
Hieronymous Bosch, An Allegory of Intemperance, ca. 1495-1500; oil on panel, 14 1/8 x 12 3/8 in.
I think that Bosch is the most inventive and imaginative painter ever, especially when he turns his brush to sins and the dark side of human nature. There aren't any devils in this painting, just humans desiring excess....but I wonder about that person swimming with what looks like a pudding for a head.
Marx Reichlich, A Jester, ca. 1519-20; tempera on panel.
Finally, a painting I found fantastically compelling, with its beautifully rendered figure of the jester and his alive-looking staff. For me he has an aspect of evil, and he seems to be partaking of some bloody meal, although it may just be the egg broken on the table. The small dog adds an air of calm innocence, so perhaps this jester is meant as a sympathetic figure, such as the jesters of Velazquez. I find it hard to believe in the Manichean outlook of Good vs Evil; it's not helpful in a complex world, but it did bring many marvelous paintings into being.