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The Temptation of Christ, 1888

  • etching, paper
  • 74 x 114 mm
  • Inv. 1998-B-60-2

Public Domain

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This etching illustrates the third part of Christ's temptation by the devil. The devil takes Christ to a high mountain to show him all the kingdoms of the world. Ensor mentioned this scene in a draft of a letter (Antwerp, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, inv. 2712/219 r°). He writes that he is working on several compositions, including "The Temptation of Christ", for which he had already made a pen-and-ink drawing: "The devil shows with a broad gesture a vast landscape dotted with monuments, pyramids, Gothic churches, Greek temples, pagodas ... The Palace of Justice and the Town Hall of Brussels. The shadow of the devil partly covers this landscape." Ensor may have drawn inspiration from Honoré Daumier's related print "Le Tentateur", which the Frenchman published in Le Charivari in 1851.


James Ensor RKD VIAF Wikidata
Ostend 1860 - Ostend 1949

Title The Temptation of Christ
Date 1888
Period 19th century
Medium and support etching AAT
Collection print room
Object type etching AAT
Inventory number 1998-B-60-2
Acquisition credit purchase
Taevernier, Auguste (coll.)
Current whereabouts Work currently not on display
IIIF Manifest
Art & Architecture Thesaurus 300055874 religious symbolism AAT
300056485 fantastic art AAT
Keywords Iconclass 11D Christ Iconclass
11K devil(s) and demons Iconclass
11K2 devils in the form of (fabulous) animals Iconclass
11K4 activities of devil(s) Iconclass
11K41 devil(s) appearing to mortals, trying to seduce them; temptation Iconclass
22C31 radiance emanating from persons or things Iconclass
24A sun as celestial body Iconclass
25I city-view, and landscape with man-made constructions Iconclass
25I12 prospect of city, town panorama, silhouette of city Iconclass
41A1 civic architecture; edifices; dwellings Iconclass
41A14 urban housing Iconclass
44B233 Town hall Iconclass
52A4 Imagination; 'Imaginatione' (Ripa) Iconclass
52A44 Fantasy, Caprice; 'Capriccio' (Ripa) Iconclass
61E(BRUSSELS) names of cities and villages (BRUSSELS) Iconclass
61F(PALAIS DE JUSTICE) names of historical buildings, sites, streets, etc. (PALAIS DE JUSTICE) Iconclass
61F(TOWN HALL) names of historical buildings, sites, streets, etc. (TOWN HALL) Iconclass
73 New Testament Iconclass
73C2 story of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13) Iconclass
School / Style phantasy
satire (artistic device) AAT
historicism (theory) AAT
Henri Leys, Henri de Braekeleer, James Ensor / Loys Delteil. - Paris : Chez l'Auteur, 1925 (nr. 60)
James Ensor : Catalogue illustré de ses gravures ; Leur description critique et l'inventaire des plaques = Geïllustreerde catalogus van zijn gravures ; Hun kritische beschrijving en inventaris van de platen = Illustrated catalogue of his engravings ; Their critical description and inventary of the plates / Auguste Taevernier. - Ledeberg (Gent) : Erasmus Boekhandel bv Amsterdam, 1973 (nr. 60)
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