Dickinson Gallery, London
Private collection, purchased circa 1990
Frederick Charles Underhill was a painter of landscapes, genre and biblical subjects. In 1851 – 1875, he exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.
The painting depicts a popular biblical story: Saint Anthony the Great tempted in the Egyptian desert by demons, whose temptations he resisted. His suffering has been explored by artists over the centuries. The subject became especially popular in the late European Middle Ages, from around 1450. The century following saw the most famous depictions in book illumination, prints and paintings. The most common representation is the temptation by demons in the guise of voluptuous seductive semi-naked women.