The History of Art And The Curious Lives of Famous Painters

100 Greatest Painters  Artists Alphabetically  Artists by Country  Artists by Century   Artists by Movement

Depictions of Hells Mouth in Gothic, Northern Renaissance and Italian Renaissance Painting

  Gothic grotesques were all the rage  in the 14th and 15th century. Hell’s Mouth was one of the most popular subjects in mediæval times.  The dragon or serpent like ceature with a gaping mouth was supposed to be the gates of Hell. According to author T. Tindall Wildridge, "Christ’s descent into Hell” was a favourite subject of Mystery plays. In the Coventry pageant the “book of words” contained but six verses, in which Hell is styled the “cindery cell.” The Chester play is much longer, and is drawn from the Apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus. This gospel, which has a version in Anglo-Saxon of a.d. 950, is no doubt the source from which is derived a prevalent form of Hell’s Mouth in which Christ is represented holding the hand of one of the persons engulped in the infernal jaws. "

The Meaning of Sacred Symbols in Paintings. Most prominently featured  symbols and their meaning:

The  Serpent

Good Shepherd


Adam and Eve




Virgin Mary



The Anchor

The Apostles



Sun and Moon



The Cross

Architectural Elements



Household Object

Clothing and Accessories


Important Words, People, Phrases, Characteristics related to the Northern Renaissance Art Movement -  allegorical painting,  rebirth, invention of oil painting,   Hieronymus Bosch, Limbourg Brothers, Desiderius Erasmus,  Robert Campin, Jan Van Eyck, Jean Fouquet, Albrecht Dürer, Johannes Gutenberg, Johann Reuchlin, Martin Luther, rise of the merchant class, world landscape,  Low Countries, Protestant Reformation, Calvinisim, glazing, impasto, scriptorium, illuminator, invention of the printing press, woodcuts, engravings, Antwerp School, Guild of Saint Luke, commerce, Flemish School, Northern Europe, Flanders, Bruges, renewed interest in classical learning,  mythological scenes, genre painting, landscapes, portraits, moralizing overtones, human vices, lust, paradise, spirituality, piousness, living a simple life, reformHuman Reasoning,  tradesmen at work, idyllic scenes of peasantsplaying games, feasting,  linear perspective, \Heliocentric Theory, humour, satire,  spiritually significant, illuminated manuscriptidealized biblical themes, scriptorium, emotion, illuminator,  iconoclast, Age of Discovery, Virgin and Child, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world,  realistic use of colours and lightOld Testament stories, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath,  Christian symbolism

Search for Artists by Century

Important Painters Born in the 13th Century
Important Painters Born in the 14th Century
Important Painters Born in the 15th Century
Important Painters Born in the 16th Century
Important Painters Born in the 17th Century
Important Painters Born in the 18th Century
Important Painters Born in the 19th Century


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ref. The Grotesque in Church Art by T. Tindall Wildridge