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Octave Tassaert

The Temptation of Saint Hilarion


Octave Tassaert
Paris 1800 – Paris 1874


The Temptation of Saint Hilarion


About 1857


Oil on canvas


111.4 x 144.3 cm


Purchase, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein, inv. 1991.19


Western Art

Octave Tassaert’s style falls somewhere between Romanticism and Realism. This “Correggio of the garret,” as Théophile Gautier called him, ended up committing suicide. He loved women, lived in poverty and his art and life were one. His favourite subjects were borrowed from the “frolicsome genre,” as he called it, or else were sentimental, mawkish genre scenes. Tassaert returned more than once to the very Flaubertian subject of the temptation of Saint Anthony and of his disciple Saint Hilarion, the anchorite from Gaza who founded Palestinian monasticism. The artist brings together iconographic elements he was drawn to, counterbalancing the starving saint with a cloud of delectable female flesh.

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