The Infernal Cortege | MSK Gent
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The Infernal Cortege, 1887

  • etching, paper
  • 210 x 258 mm
  • Inv. 1998-B-10-2

Public Domain

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In this performance, the participants in a merry carnival procession undergo a frightening transformation as they climb the mountain. As Ensor noted on the preparatory drawing (Royal Library Albert I, Print Room, Brussels), they turn into a "hellish militia on their way to the Sabbath". It is in this print that Ensor first introduces the grotesque masked creatures.


James Ensor RKD VIAF Wikidata
Ostend 1860 - Ostend 1949

Title The Infernal Cortege
Date 1887
Period 19th century
Medium and support etching AAT
Signatures, inscriptions, and markings printed inscription top right: Ensor
printed inscription bottom right: Ensor [86?]
inscription bottom right: Cortege Diabolique James Ensor
inscription on the reverse: Cortège diabolique.
inscription on the reverse: AT
inscription on the reverse: LD 10
Collection print room
Object type etching AAT
Inventory number 1998-B-10-2
Acquisition credit purchase
Taevernier, Auguste (coll.)
Current whereabouts Work currently not on display
IIIF Manifest
Art & Architecture Thesaurus 300055874 religious symbolism AAT
300056485 fantastic art AAT
Keywords Iconclass 11L541414 Hell (as one of the Four Last Things) Iconclass
11T hell and purgatory Iconclass
11T2(+4) symbols of hell (+ devil(s)) Iconclass
31A21 (human) skeleton Iconclass
31F symbols and personifications of Death Iconclass
31F1 symbols of Death Iconclass
31F11 death's head, skull (symbol of Death) Iconclass
31F2 personifications of Death; 'Morte' (Ripa) Iconclass
43A122 Carnival, Shrovetide (non-liturgical celebration) Iconclass
52A4 Imagination; 'Imaginatione' (Ripa) Iconclass
52A44 Fantasy, Caprice; 'Capriccio' (Ripa) Iconclass
School / Style phantasy
satire (artistic device) AAT
James Ensor : Catalogue illustré de ses gravures ; Leur description critique et l'inventaire des plaques = Geïllustreerde catalogus van zijn gravures ; Hun kritische beschrijving en inventaris van de platen = Illustrated catalogue of his engravings ; Their critical description and inventary of the plates / Auguste Taevernier. - Ledeberg (Gent) : Erasmus Boekhandel bv Amsterdam, 1973 (nr. 2)
Simryn Gill : de (hemi)cyclus van bladeren en papier = l'(hémi)cycle de feuilles et papier = the (hemi)cycle of leaves and paper (tentoonstelling Gent , Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent, 22.04 - 04.09.2016) / Catherine De Zegher, Jan Braet. - Gent : Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent, 2016 (p. 16)
Mock Humanity : two essays on James Ensor's grotesques ; James Ensor's grotesques and the History of Caricature by Jules Champfleury ; Frame and figure in the work of James Ensor / Bart Verschaffel. - Ghent : A&S Books, 2018 (p. 26)
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