Why I use Art History in my Novels.

Art paints the past, the present and the future. Capturing one moment in time and bringing it to life. It takes a truly talented person to paint something so life-like you can easily imagine sitting in the scene and observing all that is going on around you. 

I have always had an interest in Art History, studying it in school, and utilizing the concepts in Initiated to Kill.

One of the most fascinating aspects to art is the many ways it can be interpreted. Throughout history, art has supposedly hidden many secrets beneath its depths, perhaps many secrets still to be discovered.

Painting Last Supper Artwork - Free photo on Pixabay
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Image obtained from https://pixabay.com/ro/photos/pictura-tain%C4%83-creatie-337049/
You can stand there at look at some of the most famous paintings and sculptures in history and marvel at how the artists like Poussin, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci amongst others created such vivid masterpieces. Even some of the renowned scholars in their field haven’t unlocked all the mysteries.

As you stand there, it is easy to imagine the artist stroke by stroke beginning the scene, adding, removing, spending painstaking hours to perfect their work. No wonder many of these works stand the test of time. With some of these paintings fetching millions of dollars. 

Yet, perhaps, other artists have been overlooked. Artists that have used their own life experiences to paint vivid scenes. At times, those scenes may disturb those viewing them. 

Although the Renaissance and Classicism artists are more well known, there is another artist that perhaps utilized his works to not only taunt and hide things in plain view, his paintings may be real-life depictions of his most grotesque work. Stalking the streets to discover his next muse, and perhaps either being so close to an infamous killer to paint scenes that were not common knowledge at the time, or perhaps this artist painted his dark fantasies and eventually brought them to life.

So, how do I use art and paintings in Initiated to Kill to illustrate the inner workings of the artist?

“So, even though Nicolas Poussin depicted many Biblical scenes in his paintings, some scholars say that certain works could actually mean something entirely different. Even depicting Greek mythology. 

Spring was supposed to be a representation of creation, but it can also be interpreted as the Birth of Baccahus to denote Apollo. 

Summer can denote Ceres, goddess of grain and fertility. Autumn represents the grapes that hung from the vine in the Garden of Eden, but can also depict a reference to Baccahus. And Winter, the snake slithering over rocks, the tempter in the Garden of Eden, could be a reference to the classical underworld and Pluto.” 

“But one stood out amongst the rest. A painting behind the desk depicted a scene where a man was smoking a cigar. A woman leaned over the dressing table. The painting was titled “Ennui”, by Walter Sickert. “

1880s London

Even though his father did not encourage his artistic talents, he couldn’t help but critique his work. Slowly his work formed into street scenes, buildings and figures. But there was an underlying occurrence that would crop up in his paintings. He liked playing with people, hiding things in plain sight. Creating what seemed like a harmless drawing, but would, in fact, be a morbid or violent scene. 

The drawing depicted a large busty woman in a low-cut dress, sitting in a chair. She was bound to the chair and a man came from behind her, plunging his knife into her chest. Her face marred by slashes, but it wasn’t so much her that scared people, it was the slight smirk on the killer’s face as he bludgeoned this woman. 

1888 London

This gave him inspiration. Most of the people he mingled with would be appalled at where he went to get his models. He liked them emaciated or overweight. 

“Nicholas Poussin and Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, or better known as Guercino, were thought to have been commissioned by the church to paint works for religious purposes. But what people were unaware of is that their paintings are uniquely controversial, in that their paintings can represent different meanings and contain hidden codes, only they can decipher. 

“Last week, I talked about the painting of the Four Seasons by Nicolas Poussin. And how his Four Seasons can have three interpretations. In fact, ironically so, some scholars believe that he had knowledge of ancient religions and tended to put them in his works.  

 “After this letter was delivered, Nicholas Fouquet was imprisoned, and Poussin died in the same year. After his [Poussin’s] death, King Louis immediately brought the painting and kept it hidden.”

“Now, a sketch done by Guercino, ‘The Raising of the Master’, is of Hiram Abiff, and incorporates a variety of symbols that indicate ancient rituals.

Sketch by Guercino ‘Raising of the Master’. Image obtained by http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/raising-master.html

“These two painters, as well as other classic painters, extensively used mythology to tell a story, but also have the talent to depict religious significance for those that require it. Although, unlike other classical artists, Guercino and Poussin works regularly depict scenes that come from the ancient mysteries or rituals.”

1888 London

At one point, he even drew inspiration by painting in a black dungeon, the morbid atmosphere created an environment to paint horrors. 

Stepping back, he surveyed his masterpiece. He liked to “square-up” his sketches. He was so clever; his paintings were unique in that there was a mathematical grid faintly visible. Clues hidden in plain sight. My, wouldn’t they like to get their hands on this.

The face of death stared back at him. Smiling, he made sure all of his lines were within a radius of 360 degrees of four right angles. Creating that perfect square—square of virtue should be a rule and guide. That will make them think. Oh, he did enjoy playing his little games. “

July, 1895 

One-by-one he lined them up, fascinated by the intricate detail. Each one depicting a woman. Throats cut, stab wounds over their bodies, mutilations to their faces, abdomens displaying the insides and the genitals severed. 

All six paintings displaying his most audacious crimes; that of Martha Tabram, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddows, and Mary Jane Kelly. 

Published by sharlene25

Sharlene Almond is the author of the genre-bending Annabella Cordova series, and a New Zealand travel book Journey in little Paradise. She has written a range of health, writing and body language articles; contributing as a guest writer on other blogs. Over the last ten years, Sharlene has attained qualifications in Body Language, Criminology, Journalism, Editing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Pet Care, and Animal Behaviour. While setting up an online nutritional business, she is studying to specialize in Medicinal Cannabis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sharlene is also currently editing her second Annabella Cordova novel, with two others in the works. To support her online business, Sharlene sends out a trimonthly newsletter covering health, body language, writing, and even articles centered on health topics for your pet.

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