Jean Delville's "Treasures of Satan" (1895)

leading from: 

a) Jean Delville's Treasures of Satan (1895)
My idea is that when Flemish Symbolist  Jean Delville created this painting first exhibited in 1895, he absorbed numerous interesting images from other sources that went into making this strange male ballet dancer like character with large tentacles extending from the back,  leaping over a trail of human bodies in an underwater scene.

Jean Delville's Treasures of Satan (1895)

a) Idol Of Perversity
Jean Delville in the year of 1891, the same year that the Bradshaw cave in the Kimberley region was discovered, named after Joseph Bradshaw who first discovered and recorded the wall paintings. Delville created the composition Idol Of Perversity that displays the snaking form with it's tail slithering between her breasts and tongues of light emanating from her head.

The Idol of Perversity by Jean Delville 1891
(source of image: )

b)  Zig zag devil
The three prongs in the face of the rock painting are the remains of a human figure like the one on the far left in the picture and Jean Delville perhaps translate this into his drawing showing the edges of the veil either side of her face and naked bosom. Exactly how Jean Delville came to know about the cave painting within that year is unknown but it's easy to imagine that he saw images of  Joseph Bradshaw's findings one way or another the year it was discovered.

Zigzag Devil

c) Treasures of Satan references the Mona Lisa/ La Gioconda
Lynda Harris discussds the possible connection between this painting and Treasures of Satan in an article for the Theosophical Society's Quest Magazine back in 2002

Mona Lisa/ La Gioconda
( c. 1503–06, perhaps continuing until c. 1517)
by Leonardo Da Vinci

Perhaps the image of La Gioconda / Mona Lisa was reversed and so we see the pathway in the distance turning into the end of the Satan's tentacle tail. The head area is transformed into the Satan. Her skin above the top of her dress has been extended downwards to become a trail of nude bodies.

Perhaps the reason why Jean Delville would have decided to use the Mona Lisa is perhaps because it incorporates the Henu Barque. See: Mona Lisa incorporates the Henu Barque

reversed Mona Lisa and the tentacle wing from Treasures of Satan

the trail and tail

d)  There are also points of comparison between the Sokar Funerary Barque from the Papyrus if Ani

i) The horns of the antelope head become the tips of the Satan's wing like tentacles.

ii) The head of the antelope becomes the material wrapped around the arm of the Satan

iii) The fan on the left of the barque, becomes the material flowing down the left of the Satan which would be in front of his head.

iv) The stern of the barque on the right becomes the tail end of the tentacle wings, the row of three or four spoon like rudder pins becomes the octopus suckers.

v) Since I am so hellbent on Delville knowing about the Henu Barque in some way,  in my need to associate his work with them thing, perhaps I should want to imagine that he saw a range of them,  such as versions with rows of falcons along the barque just before the head such as the ones found on the walls of the Temple of Rameses III at Medinet Habu which would have been known about at the time and such falcons might have become he bent tendrils from he upper part of the tentacle wings

vi) An arm of the crouched man becomes the fish tail on the lower left.

vii) His shendyt (skirt) becomes the area of glowing plants to the bottom left

viii) The spanner shapes above the runners of the sledge inspired the idea of a human form, and so there is a flow of human bodies approximately three people wide and so they represent the three supports of the barque.

ix) The browns, oranges and white of the Solar Funerary Barque depiction might have inspired the choice of colours for Delville's painting. The white of the pillow like shapes between the supports become the white on the bodies.

Sokar Funerary Barque based upon the one from the Papyrus of Ani and the Delville's Treasures of Satan



h)  Wikipedia on Treasures of Satan
Wikipedia talks about the rest of the themes of the composition saying that "Delville was a great admirer of Eduard Schuré’s The Great Initiates, and it could well be that Satan’s Treasures is inspired by an episode from the Initiation of Isis in Schuré’s book. In the relevant scene, Schuré describes the novice’s failure of an early test, the temptation of the senses. Wrapped in a dream of fire, the novice becomes drunk with the heavy perfume of a seductive woman, and later falls asleep, after wildly satisfying his desire. This failure is described by his hierophant as a fall into the abyss of matter." (source
i) The zigzagging tentacles

Although it might seem very bizarre for the character to have tentacles sprouting from his back as if they were some form of bastardised angel wings, zig zagging tails for a dragon were a normal thing, Gustave Moreau had used them for his dragon in the decades before.  (See also Gustave Moreau's dragons)


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