Learn about Some of the Creepiest Paintings


Many famous dark paintings live among us. Whether we like them or not, they exist. If you are someone who scares easily, perhaps this blog isn’t for you. The works of art I am going to be sharing with you today may certainly be some of the most terrifying paintings you have ever seen. Together we will dive into some of the details behind both these works of art as well as the artists who created them. Are you ready to delve into this dark world of the scariest paintings in art history? If you are, we shall begin.

The Nightmare – Henry Fuseli

The Nightmare - Henry Fuseli

The first piece of famous dark artwork we are going to be talking about today is an oil painting entitled “The Nightmare”. This work of art was created by an artist named Henry Fuseli in the year 1781 and is one of the creepiest paintings. There are many aspects in this painting which give it an overall creepy energy. From the dark colours to the image depicted, you are bound to be left feeling a little unsettled. When looking at this painting, you will see a woman who is deep in slumber. On top of her rests a goblin like character and what looks to be a horse in the left corner. You begin to wonder, are these characters real, or a figment of the woman’s imagination?

The Face of War – Salvador Dali

most terrifying paintings

Next up on the list of famous creepy paintings is Salvador Dali’s “The Face Of War”. Created in the year 1940, this painting was a piece of surrealism art. What you will see when looking at this painting on canvas is an older face. Within the eyes and mouth you will find skeletal figures resting inside. The more you zoom in, the more skeletal faces you will find. This painting provokes a sense of fear because you begin to wonder how many skeletal faces actually live within this piece of art. Do these faces depict the older faces inner demons? Or do they represent all of the death they experienced throughout their lifetime?

Hell – Hans Memling

scary famous paintings

To continue on with famous disturbing paintings, “Hell” by Hans Memling will be the next piece of work we talk about. This piece of work has a lot of creepy features which all add to its overall spooky mood. Hans Memling created this piece of work in 1485. This painting contains a lot of information to digest. Some of these things being the devil, flames, nude human bodies and a creature’s mouth consuming them. Is this jaw supposed to resemble the mouth of hell? Where will these people go once they are swallowed? The dark reds and toned down yellow colours used in this piece of art add to the overall ominous tone.

The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea – William Blake

William Blake has created many scary famous paintings during his time of creation. The one we will be talking about today is “The Great Red Dragon And The Beast From The Sea”. Painted between the years of 1805 to 1810, this painting uses dark grey, brown and blue tones. When looking at this painting you immediately feel cold and chills are sent through your body. There are various creatures who live within this painting. The unfamiliarity of the characters in this work make you feel uneasy as fearing the unknown is a common thing. This is definitely one of the creepiest paintings I have ever laid my eyes on.

Dante and Virgile in Hell – William Adolphe Bouguereau

In the year 1850, artist William Adolphe Bouguereau painted their oil on canvas work of art called “Dante and Virgile In Hell”. If you have been searching for one of the scariest paintings, this one definitely makes the cut. In the forefront of this painting you will see two pale bodies who I assume to be Dante and Virgile. One of these people is sucking the neck of the other. In the background you will see there is more than just these two people in the work. You will see two bystanders who seem unsettled by what they are witnessing, as well as a demon-like figure with wings flying behind them. Whatever is going down in this painting, it is safe to say it is not pleasant.

The Cyclops – Odilon Redon

scariest paintings in art history

Odilon Redon created their work “The Cyclops” in 1914. This work of art perhaps isn’t one of the most gruesome paintings you will ever see, however there is still something unsettling about it. When I first found this painting, I actually found it to be quite inviting. The longer I stared at it, the longer I began to feel unsettled. Upon first glance, you will see a friendly cyclops amidst a lovely landscape. The longer you look, you will notice there is a nude body underneath the ground. It seems harmless until you start thinking about how this body got there. Did the cyclops bury them? We may never know the answer to this question which is why this piece of work is on my list of famous dark paintings.

The Death of Marat – Edvard Munch

In 1907, “The Death Of Marat” was painted by the famous artist Edvard Munch. What you will see when you look at this oil on canvas is a man laying in bed with blood surrounding him. Standing beside the bed is a woman who is looking at you straight on. The eye contact this woman is making with you almost makes you feel like a bystander. She makes you feel as if you just witnessed a murder. There is something interesting about how the woman’s hand is still grazing the man’s. Almost as if she still loves or cares for him regardless of what she has just done. All of these factors make this painting one of the most terrifying paintings you will ever see.

Premonition – Henryk Weyssenhof

famous dark artwork

This 1893 painting created by Henryk Weyssenhof is nothing but eerie. Within this painting there lives what seems to be a ghost or a spirit or the reaper. On either side of this faded figure you can see two dogs with their chins raised, howling. It is believed that dogs and other animals are able to see spirits. Perhaps these dogs are warning the other people in their village that they may have an unwanted visitor. Have you ever heard your dog bark just to look and see there was nothing there. This is one of the many famous creepy paintings which make you reflect on your own life.

Heads Severed – Theodore Gericault

As we are coming closer to the end of this list of the most terrifying paintings, we must talk about “Heads Severed” by Theodore Gericault. This framed painting holds two heads which are detached from their bodies. The blood on the sheets is brown, making it seem as if their heads were severed awhile ago. I guess what really makes this one of the most gruesome paintings is that we don’t know who severed the heads or how long the heads have been severed for. It is this reason among many which makes this one of the scariest paintings in art history.

Medusa – Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

famous disturbing paintings

The final piece on this list of famous disturbing paintings is “Medusa” by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. This piece of work had one version created in 1596 and another in 1597. We all know that if we look Medusa in the eyes we will turn to stone, so looking at this painting definitely induces some fear. On top of this well known fact, the snakes coming out of Medusa’s head are also unsettling. There are many details in this photo which may instill fear in the mind of the viewer, making this the perfect ending to this list of the scariest paintings.

Art Is Not Always Rainbow and Sunshines

scariest paintings

I know many of us may turn to art when we are feeling stressed out or anxious, hoping that the art will bring a sense of calm into our lives. However, after learning about these scary famous paintings it is clear that this is not always the case. These pieces of famous dark artwork will definitely not bring rainbows and sunshine to the forefront of our minds. Rather, it will do the opposite. If you are looking to feel a sense of fear, then looking at these paintings is a great option for you. After staring at these paintings for a long duration of time, you will definitely be left feeling uneasy. Although these are some of the scariest paintings, they are still beautiful works of art. These talented artists had the goal of making the viewer feel something, and this is exactly what they did.

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