Martin Schongauer , Temptation of Saint Anthony, Engraving. After his parents' death, this early Christian monk retired to the Egyptian desert to contemplate God. He remained there for fifteen years; during this time he began his legendary combat against the devil, withstanding demonic apparitions and erotic visions. After resisting temptations, Saint Anthony emerged at last from the desert and organized and instructed a group of hermits who sought to imitate his example. Thus he became the father of Christian monasticism. According to contemporary sources, Schongauer was a prolific painter whose panels were in demand throughout Europe, however very few paintings by his hand survive. Paintings combine monumentality with tenderness, similar in manner to the great Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden, by whom Schongauer was profoundly influenced. As an engraver Schongauer stood without rival in northern Europe during his time. His engraved work, consisting of about 115 plates, signed with his monogram, is a highly refined and sensitive manifestation of the late Gothic spirit. Technically he brought the art of engraving to maturity by expanding its range of contrasts and textures, thus introducing a painter's viewpoint into an art that had been primarily the domain of the goldsmith.
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