"Throughout history, artists have grappled with the problem of depicting clearly and forcefully the principles of evil and suffering in human existence." With this view, the Lehners have collected 244 representations, symbols, and manuscript pages of devils and death from Egyptian times to 1931. Reproductions from Dürer, Holbein, Cranach, Rembrandt, and many other lesser-known or unknown artists illustrate the fascinating history. The fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries are stressed.
The book is divided into 12 chapters, each with a separate introduction. Most of the illustrations are collected in five of these chapters: Devils and Demons, including Belial, Beelzebub, and the Anti-Christ; Witches and Warlocks, their animals, forms, and rituals; The Danse Macabre, with the Dance of Death Alphabet by Holbein and representations of all classes leveled by the common force of death; Memento Mori, including a skull clock, a macabre representation of the Tree of Knowledge and Death, and the winged hourglass and scythe; and Religio-Political Devilry, the fight between the Papists and the Reformers, and symbols of devils in other political disputes. There are also chapters on the Fall of Lucifer, Faust and Mephistopheles, Hell and Damnation, The Apocalyptic Horsemen, Witch-Hunting, The Art of Dying, and Resurrection and Reckoning.
Anyone curious about witchcraft, death, and devils will be interested in this book. It is particularly useful to teachers, artists, and illustrators who need clear reproductions for the classroom, for models, or for commercial uses. Death, devils, and their history are very much with us today.
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Devils, Demons and Witchcraft
244 Illustrations for Artists and Craftspeople
By Ernst Lehner, Johanna Lehner
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1971 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Devils and Demons
Meet the Devil. Nowadays he usually appears as a suave, sly man with telltale horns, hooves and tail; but in the past his bestial nature was emphasized and he cropped up in a wide variety of animal and mixed forms—usually loathly, since (in most artistic conceptions) he had sacrificed his angelic beauty when he disobeyed and rebelled against God. (As shown in some illustrations in this chapter, animal forms for supernatural beings and demons were common in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian art.)
The Devil's main objective is to tempt man and lead him away from God. Two of the most famous temptations are illustrated in this chapter: the temptation of Jesus in the desert of Palestine and that of St. Anthony in the desert of Egypt. But every human being must be assailed, and the Devil needs many demon helpers, such as Belial and Beelzebub, who go about the world spreading disease and madness (by "possessing" their victims) and instigating all sorts of vice. The vice-ridden may not even be aware that they are playing into the Devil's hands: witness the vain woman who looks into her mirror expecting to see her face and sees—something else.CHAPTER 2
This is the Fall of Lucifer (the Lightbringer), chief of the rebellious angels. The battle in Heaven, with St. Michael leading the loyal forces against the future Devil (Satan) and demons, is alluded to in the Revelation of St. John the Divine, and has captured the imagination of many creative men. In literature its fullest elaboration is found in Milton's Paradise Lost. In art it has inspired innumerable works, including Dürer's Apocalypse woodcuts.CHAPTER 3
Faust and Mephistopheles
In some versions of medieval demon lore, Mephistopheles was second only to Lucifer among the fallen archangels. In the Faust story, a German Renaissance folk legend which gained literary prominence with Marlowe and Goethe, Mephistopheles is the devil who is summoned by the aged scholar-magician Faust and heaps all pleasures on him in return for his soul.
It was Goethe's Faust especially which inspired an incredible number of literary, theatrical and musical adaptations, as well as a host of illustrations, including those by Delacroix shown in this chapter. It was the figure of Faust as a scholar thirsting for knowledge which inspired the unforgettable etching by Rembrandt.CHAPTER 4
Hell and Damnation
In Christian belief, Hell is the place where sinners are punished after death. Dante's Inferno contains the most vivid descriptions of the sufferings inflicted on the damned by the demons of Hell. Similar places of punishment in the afterlife form part of other religious beliefs, especially popular Buddhism in the Far East. Two illustrations in this chapter show a scene of judging of souls in ancient Egyptian religion and a modern depiction of the punishments in Hades of three arch-sinners of ancient Greek mythology: Tantalus was never allowed to taste of the fruit and water that were so near to him; Sisyphus had constantly to roll a huge rock to the top of a hill, from which it would just as constantly roll back; Ixion was fastened to a perpetually turning wheel.CHAPTER 5
The Apocalyptic Horsemen
Among the visions granted to St. John on Patmos, as recorded in Revelations (or the Apocalypse), was that of four maleficent horsemen, the last of whom is there identified as Death (chapter 6, verses 1-8). The others have been identified as Plague, Famine and War, let loose against mankind. The most famous of the many illustrations of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is the one by Dürer.CHAPTER 6
Witches and Warlocks
The true practicing witches of the late Middle Ages, Renaissance and later periods (as distinguished from mentally ill or asocial people accused of witchcraft) were most likely stubborn adherents of pre-Christian pagan religious beliefs in which the deity or deities (for Christians, the Devil and his demons) partook of animal forms. (The Celtic enchanter Merlin is included in this chapter as an example of a pre-Christian figure who remained alive in Christian memories.)
Witches and warlocks (a special term for male witches) were supposed to be able to prophesy, cast spells, raise storms, change shape, and much more. They were aided by certain animal "familiars," often cats and toads. They assembled periodically at sabbaths, where they worshipped Satan. As shown in some of the sixteenth-century German illustrations in this chapter, female witches were not always thought of as withered crones.
Witchcraft was combated fiercely by both Catholics and Protestants, with civil authorities lending a firm hand to the Church. The many executions of Protestants and Jews by the Catholic Inquisition is shown in several illustrations here as an analogous phenomenon. The most famous witch hunt in America (literally speaking) took place in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 and had Cotton Mather as its theorist.CHAPTER 8
In medieval belief, demons lay in wait at the bedside of the dying in hopes of snatching away their souls. The book Ars Moriendi (The Art of Dying), which appeared in many block-book editions (both words and pictures cut on the same wood block) in the late fifteenth century, depicted the struggle between vices (and religious doubts) and virtues (religious certainty) in the mind of the dying man and the fight between externalized good and evil forces over his soul.CHAPTER 9
A favorite medieval theme, connected with the view of the world as mere vanity, was the leveling of all social classes and ranks in death—with Death aptly personified as the bare, unidentifiable, universal skeleton. At first in church frescoes and then in dozens of books, the theme of Death seizing all men from emperors to peasants became popular throughout Europe. The woodcut illustrations of the Dance of Death by Hans Holbein the Younger (eight of which are reproduced in this chapter) are the most famous of all.CHAPTER 10
A memento mori (Latin for "remember that you must die") is an object or pictorial symbol associated with death. Such symbols include skulls, bones, coffins, urns, angels of death, upside-down torches, graves and gravestones, hourglasses, scythes, spades, toads, serpents, worms, owls, ravens, cypresses, weeping willows, tuberoses, parsley, and many more. A good number of these associations (and of our present-day funeral practices) can be traced back to antiquity. These emblems of mortality have long been used as items of adornment: Mary, Queen of Scots, owned a skull-shaped watch; Martin Luther had a gold ring with a death's-head in enamel; even today skull motifs are used in all sorts of jewelry and bric-à-brac.CHAPTER 11
Resurrection and Reckoning
In Christian belief, Christ rose from the dead, and on Judgment Day, the last day of the world, everyone who ever lived will awaken from the dead and be tried by the Lord and His angels. Many great works of art have been based on this theme.CHAPTER 12
Devils, demons and similar infernal figures (including swine) have been favorite material for religious and political pamphleteers and caricaturists of all denominations and convictions for centuries. Writers and artists attacking such real and alleged abuses as drinking, dancing, smoking, gambling, counterfeiting and usury have not hesitated to press Satan into their service. This concluding chapter presents a wide panorama of these polemic graphics with a smell of brimstone.
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Table of Contents
Devils and Demons,
Faust and Mephistopheles,
Hell and Damnation,
The Apocalyptic Horsemen,
Witches and Warlocks,
Resurrection and Reckoning,