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Christ Tormented by Demons, 1895

  • etching, paper
  • 172 x 235 mm
  • Inv. 1998-B-94

Public Domain

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The passion story of Christ is a common theme in Western visual art. In Ensor's time, the story had a special resonance in popular devotion through the annual Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. However, Ensor's disconcerting view of Christ's death has another dimension. Death predominates in the print, with the bystanders as living corpses on the right and threatening devil figures on the left. Satan even takes hold of the figure of Christ, whose physiognomy resembles that of Ensor himself. Above the cross, a strange sort of angel blows a trumpet. In the background the artist has depicted a gallows field. The etching is largely based on a charcoal drawing from the series The Aureoles of Christ from 1886 (Brussels, KMKSB, inv. 4193). On the back of this drawing, Ensor described the work as follows: "La triste et brisée. Satan et les légions fantastiques tourmentant le crucifié." The first part of the title refers to the effect of the light, the second to the subject.


James Ensor RKD VIAF Wikidata
Ostend 1860 - Ostend 1949

Title Christ Tormented by Demons
Date 1895
Period 19th century
Medium and support etching AAT
Signatures, inscriptions, and markings signature and year bottom left: JAMES / ENSOR / 1895
signatures (names) bottom right: James Ensor
inscription on the reverse: AT
inscription on the reverse: D. 93
Collection print room
Object type etching AAT
Inventory number 1998-B-94
Acquisition credit
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 11D Christ Iconclass
11G angels Iconclass
31A21 (human) skeleton Iconclass
31A211 (human) skull Iconclass
48C73512 clarinet, bassoon, oboe, shawm Iconclass
73D4 from Pilate's palace to Golgotha: the procession to Calvary (Matthew 27:31-33; Mark 15:20-22; Luke 23:26-33; John 19:17) Iconclass
73D6 the crucifixion of Christ: Christ's death on the cross; Golgotha (Matthew 27:45-58; Mark 15:33-45; Luke 23:44-52; John 19:25-38) Iconclass
73D6712 loin-cloth ~ particularities of crucifixion scenes Iconclass
School / Style phantasy
satire (artistic device) AAT
historicism (theory) AAT
Henri Leys, Henri de Braekeleer, James Ensor / Loys Delteil. - Paris : Chez l'Auteur, 1925 (nr. 93)
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. 94)
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