The Demons Inside - (Devin Dabney)

This art gallery is a collection of artistic representations of the Devil [and other incarnations of evil] from various artists & time periods. It is meant to compare and contrast the included artists' interpretations of pure wickedness, and how said interpretations are influenced by environmental factors such as culture, era, society, and each artist's personal intent behind their creations.

This mezzotint by John Martin depicts the Devil in Hell, amongst his tortured subjects in the biblical "lake of fire." Martin was known as a devout Christian, and was also a believer in natural religion - the idea that God is not separate from the natural world, but instead comprises it - which probably influenced his painting style of picturesque, surreal landscapes. This is most likely why Lucifer is depicted as a fallen angel by Martin - for the human appearance and perfect physical stature, to best suit the painting's harmonious, almost calm appearance.
To contrast John Martin's take on Lucifer, the Devil is often depicted as still humanoid, but more monstrous in appearance. This bronze sculpture by Jean-Jacques Feuchère was made around the same time as Martin's engraving, but it includes horns and a more sinister wing design than the 'fallen angel' Satan - both common traits of many depictions of demons in popular culture today.
Though this painting was done in satire of the artists' surrounding cultural beliefs, it depicts a common interpretation of the Devil as an animal - namely, the "Sabbatical goat" version - as he directs a sacrificial offering of children. In addition to the recurring goat theme, Christianity's Satan is also often shown as a mix of animal and man - often as a satyr-like creature, possibly with traits from various animals such as a goat, a pig, and/or a horse.
The idea of "evil" is a powerful concept in Catholicism, and subsequently, Baroque-period art often pertained to Satan. Here, the Catholic representation of the Devil is done through an oft-repeated theme of the temptation of Saint Anthony. More of the supernatural side of the Devil's ability is played up in this painting, and thus the Devil himself is subsequently much less of a focus, though he IS shown in the painting - behind the titular Saint Anthony - in his infamous goat form.
Often times, Satan is not depicted so much as an all-powerful entity, but rather a trickster or source of temptation for the dark side of humanity. This lesser form is often used to make the Devil seem relatively powerless - probably because Christianity sometimes focuses on the everyday individual triumphs over temptation. In this engraving, we see a Christian soldier who travels upon horse, appearing unfazed by the gnarled landscape or the grotesque creatures that surround him, one of them being the goat form of Satan.
Satan's vulnerability is sometimes depicted as him being a conflicted entity; his biblical origin of a cast-down angel is a result of his own struggles with pride as he desired to defy his purpose of serving God, wanting to BE God instead. And since Christianity often repeats the idea that "the wages of sin is death," Satan's sinful nature puts him at odds with death, which is literally depicted in this painting. Though he is shown as an angelic figure, there are serpents slithering amongst him, harkening back to the idea of his deceptive nature.
To continue with the theme of conflict, a common motif in art is the idea of good versus evil, and often times - especially in religion - good is shown as the triumphant force. Here we see an artist's interpretation of an angel prevailing over Satan, who is shown as a skull-faced humanoid amalgamation of man and serpent. The serpent is arguably the animal most commonly associated with Satan, as it is often used in lore as a personification of deception. We saw this theme used in the previous painting as well.
Western religions such as Christianity often use the fear of Satan and Hell (a depicted afterlife of eternal suffering) as a means of instilling belief amongst its practitioners. This piece depicts a group of people pleading with Jesus as they descend into a literal Hell mouth, overseen by demons who bear some of the same physical traits as the gargoyle-like interpretation of their leader, Satan. Though this painting does not literally depict the Devil, it does depict themes & ideas that are a result of his existence as a compelling idea amongst the pious.
This incredibly large contemporary art piece collects several themes of evil depicted in religion, the primary focus being a demon [that is presumably the Devil] towering over it all. The painting "Hell" is part of a three-part series of works done by three separate artists' respective interpretations of Dante's "three kingdoms" of heaven, earth, and hell; "Hell" shows images of both judgement and suffering, and is dominated by the image of a deformed, androgynous demon. The idea of Satan exuding traits of androgyny likely originates from the "Sabbatic Goat" image drawn by Eliphas Levi that is often associated with Baphomet, another interpretation of Satan.
This final piece shows a mixture of several common demonic visuals (most of which we've covered in this gallery) all into one piece - namely, a Sri Lankan mask that was used for ceremonial dances. This particular mask makes use of the cobra, which was often used as a motif for masks that were used to ritualistically expel evil from a person; ironically enough, the Serpent Demon is a commonly known evil entity in the culture, which means that they were dressing up as evil to overcome evil. This mask [and the pieces in this gallery before it] all manifest a singular idea: the personification of human wickedness - or, the metaphorical demons inside of us all.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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