Quick Hits – Sins

The Public Domain Review never disappoints. This is an etching (c. 1904) by Belgian artist James Ensor of Pride, one of his interpretations of the Christian symbolism of the Seven Deadly Sins.

James Ensor, The Deadly Sins Dominated by Death, hand-coloured etching on Japanese paper, frontispiece to The Deadly Sins, ca. 1904 

Ensor (1860–1949) pivoted toward grotesque Christian imagery, not for its theistic content, but because it offered the best symbolic vocabulary for visualizing his growing disgust with the world, the article says. Read more here.

Drafted in colored chalk and created and retouched over decades, beginning with Lust in 1888, The Deadly Sins are less moralizing depictions of vice, more personal chaffings against petit bourgeois life.


The etchings did not find fans. One of his early champions backed away over the Deadly Sins works, writing: “Your caricatures are not at all appreciated. People find them puerile and common.” 

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