The legend of Saint Anthony Abbot, a fourth-century Egyptian hermit, tells of the saint’s heroic resistance to the devil’s torments. Here, he triumphs over the devil, who writhes under his feet. The saint’s staff originally would have impaled the monster’s mouth. Saint Anthony’s order was founded in Europe in the eleventh century and was dedicated to the care of the sick. The Antonites had two hospitals in the Alsace—at Isenheim and Strasbourg—and this intense, expressive, and psychologically charged figure may have been made for one of them. Carved in the round, it may have been carried in procession and placed on an altar shrine or on a bracket against a column. The exceptional carving of the face, beard, and hair suggests the authorship of Nikolaus von Hagenau, one of the most gifted Upper Rhenish sculptors working about 1500.
[ Julius Böhler Kunsthandlung, Munich (sold 1988)]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred Eighteenth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1987, through June 30, 1988." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 118 (1988). p. 33.
Wixom, William D. "Medieval Sculpture at The Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 46, no. 3 (Winter 1988-1989). p. 31.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1988-1989." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 47, no. 2 (Fall 1989). p. 19.
Clark, William W., and Charles T. Little. "Notable Recent Acquisitions, Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters, New York." Gesta 29. no. 2 (1990). p. 239, fig. 2.
Wixom, William D. "Riemenschneider in America." In Tilman Riemenschneider: Master Sculptor of the Late Middle Ages, edited by Julien Chapuis. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1999. p. 158.
Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 248, p. 205.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 105, pp. 144, 198.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 151.