|Courtesy of www.dalipaintings.com|
In this picture temptation appears to Saint Anthony successively in the form of a horse in the foreground representing strength, sometimes also the symbol of voluptuousness, and in the form of the elephant which follows it,
carrying on its back the golden cup of lust in which a nude woman is standing precariously balanced on the fragile pedestal, a figure which emphasizes the erotic character of the composition. The other elephants are carrying
buildings on their back; the first of these is an obelisk inspired by that of Bernini in Rome, the second and third are Venetian edifices in the style of Paladio. In the background, another elephant carries a tall tower which is
not without phallic overtones and in the clouds one can glimpse a few fragments of the Escorial, symbol of temporal and spiritual order.
This painting was painted in the studio that the artist occupied for a few days next to the Colony Restaurant in New York. It is the first and the only time that he participated in a contest. It was an invitational artistic competition for a painting on the theme of the temptation of Saint Anthony, organized in 1946 by the Loew Lewin Company, a movie-producing firm. The winning picture was to figure in a film taken from the story "Bel Ami" by Maupassant. Eleven painters took part in the competition, among them Dali, Paul Delaux, Max Ernst. The prize was given to Max Ernst.