Religious motifs : Overview. Search. About religious motifs

See also Devil, Satan


Satan, the devil, evil, death

Description of this motif: Hell isn't as important as Heaven in Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales. In his literary universe people aren't going either to hell or to heaven after dying. If you aren't good enough to enter heaven, where an open mind and heart, a childlike innocence, is needed, you won't be condemned to Hell, but will be going through a trial period in a sort of intermediate state, from which you may go to heaven later. Cf. e.g. "On Judgment Day", "Something" og "The Garden of Paradise" and "The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf". Cf. the motif Intermediate state.

Example :

Many probably pass this picture unnoticing, yet it contains the essence of poetry. It is Christ descending to Hell, but He is not surrounded by souls in torment; no, these are heathen. The painting is by the Florentine Agnolo Bronzino. The expression of the children's faces is most beautiful in their certainty that they are going to Heaven. Two little ones are already embracing each other; one stretches a hand out to a companion below, and points to himself as if to say, "I am going to Heaven!" All the older people stand around doubting, or hoping, or humbly bowing in prayer to the Lord Jesus.

Comment on this quote: The picture's Italian title is "Cristo al Limbo". According to "Bronzino was an Italian painter who was the outstanding artist of the Tuscan High Mannerist style. His real name was Agnolo di Cosimo. As court painter to the Medici in Florence, he produced large numbers of portraits as well as religious pictures. His style, which owed much to his teacher Jacopo da Pontormo, is cold, refined, aristocratic, and technically brilliant in its rendering of surface details and colors. His religious works, such as Christ in Limbo (1552, Santa Croce, Florence), show the typical Mannerist characteristics of elongated forms and crowded, angular compositions. His portraits, while highly stylized in their long lines and elegant poses, achieve a formalized stillness that is the ultimate refinement of Mannerism's usually hectic quality. A famous example is the cool, brilliant Portrait of a Young Man (circa 1535, Metropolitan Museum, New York City). His influence on later portraiture extended to the 19th-century French master J. A. D. Ingres."