August 15th, 2014


A Belgian Who Ought To Be More Famous Than He Is

I knew a couple of his paintings- the man waking up in his coffin in the crypt, the naked witch astride her broomstick- but I hadn't put them together or identified Wiertz as an artistic personality. Apparently the critics think he's not very good.

Oh but he is. He's brilliant,  He paints things no-one had ever thought of painting before. Like the soul whizzing off among the planets "A Second After Death". Or a starving woman boiling babies. Or the people of the future examining the pigmy goings-on of the people of today.  He had a thing about heads. There's a wonderful triptych illustrating the thoughts and sensations of a head in the moment after the guillotine blade cuts it off.Then there's the picture of a naked woman shooting her would be assailant with a pistol: see the brains spurt! And the picture of the suicide with the pistol barrel in his mouth and his head disintegrating in a cloud of smoke. I mean, wow!

Wiertz was  a pacifist. There's a picture of Rubensian fat kids cavorting in a meadow; he called it Cannon Fodder. And there's a picture of Napoleon in flames being reprimanded by the ghosts of his victims. They're offering him severed limbs to eat and blood to drink.

Wiertz died in 1865. Towards the end of his career he approached the Belgian government and said, " I'll give you my studio and all the paintings in it on condition you turn it into a Wiertz museum and maintain it in perpetuity." The Belgian government now regrets the deal. But it shouldn't. They're just not advertising it right. I don't see why it shouldn't be  as popular as Tussauds.

Wiertz is horrorshow. Go on, google him. I dare you!

Scene from the Hell.jpg

"Scene from Hell" by Antoine Wiertz - Own photo in the Wiertz Museum. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.