Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Treasures of Satan

Ireland's recent approval of the same-sex marriage bill has prompted some interesting commentary from overseas, mostly complimentary, but some, decidedly negative. One high ranking Vatican official declared it a "defeat for humanity" while some of the more puritanical Christian sects in the US have predicted the country is bound for Hell. But which Hell ? If I have a choice I'd like to sink to the infernal coral reef depicted in Jean Delville's 1895 painting Les Trésors de Satan. The painting depicts Satan presiding over his treasures - the voluptuous bodies of some damned souls slumbering on a seabed of pearls and jewels. Delville's Satan cuts a striking figure, not some Dantean horned god, but a beautifully formed man with an incredible shock of red fiery hair dancing gracefully among the drowsy bodies, as serpents coil around him. The Treasures of Satan remains a key work for me, I first discovered the painting in my teens when it graced the cover of Morbid Angel's 1991 album Blessed Are the Sick and it gave me an appreciation for art history. The painting can be seen at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels. A larger copy of the painting can be viewed here

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