This large painting by William Bugbear depicts a scene from Dances inferno. It is set on the banks of the river Styx which formed the boundary between earth and the under world. Dante is with Virgil who is his guide through the nine circles of Hell. The circles are concentric, representing a gradual increase in wickedness, and culminating at the centre of the earth, where the devil himself is held in bondage.
This painting depicts Dante in the fifth circle which represents Wrath and sullenness. He is standing on the left Of the painting with the ghost Of Virgil at his side. They are looking upon the sins of wrath (extreme anger) and sullenness (sulkiness, moroseness, brooding resentment, gloominess, sluggishness. ) The dominant male at the front of the piece is ruthlessly attacking his opponent in an attempt to tear his throat out With his teeth showing extreme wrathful behavior.
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While this is going on a sullen some what distressed male lies on the floor at their feet. In the background their is a mass of mostly male entwined bodies, some exhibiting Signs of sullenness while others are being wrathful toward each other. Others appear to be trying to avoid falling into a hash of hot boiling liquid and are desperately trying to cling onto something to avoid their fate. Behind them a winged demon patiently watches over the proceedings.
William Bugbear was a master at painting with a photo like quality. The detail and realism of the fingers gouging at the flesh give the skin an almost three dimensional elastic appearance. Through out the work the muscle tone and sinewy detail of the bodies and the facial expressions show the extreme tension and determination of the subjects portrayed, all demonstrating Bugbear’s unique ability to produce convincing photo realistic portrayals of his subjects .