The 13th Floor

Painted in Blood Red: 10 Utterly Disturbing Classic Works of Art

Before there were horror movies, people had to be very creative with the way they scared the shit out of each other. Sure, sometimes it takes longer to paint a picture, but it takes talent and time to create something that terrifies all who look upon it. Here is my top ten list of the scariest classic paintings. These are not only mesmerizing and captivating on an artistic level, they are all types of messed up.

Ghost of a flea

“Ghost of a Flea” by William Blake

From 1820

If this is what a flea becomes when you kill it, then we are all fucked. This 8×6 painting done with gold leaf is a rendition of something Blake actually believed he saw in real life. So that’s comforting.


The painting SATURN by the Spanish artist GOYA.

“Saturn Devouring His Son” by Francisco Goya

From 1820

Dad is totally pissed. No…seriously. Several artists have tackled the story of Saturn eating his son, but this version from Goya is probably the most well known and gory.


Study after velazquez's portriat of pope innocent x

“Study after Velazqauez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X” by Francis Bacon

From 1953

It’s like a transporter accident on The Enterprise. Bacon’s painting is a nightmarish re-interpretation of Velazquez’s original portrait of “Innocent X”.



“The Flaying of Marsyas” by Titian

From 1570

Please be sure to note the cute little puppy dog eating the little bloody bits of flesh that fall down.


Anatomical pieces

“Anatomical Pieces” by Theodore Gericault

From 1819

A very disturbing subject matter for a still life, I guess he couldn’t find any fruit to paint.



“Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch


The third painting in a triptych, this one appears to depict what happens after the orgies shown in the previous two paintings.


Judith Slaying Holofernes

“Judith Slaying Holofernes” by Artemisia Gentileschi

From 1620

I’m going to assume this guy said the wrong thing to these two ladies.


Water Ghost

“Water Ghost” by Alfred Kubin

From 1905

Alfred Kubin was known for some pretty frightening stuff including a happy print called “Way to Hell” and this depiction of five men on a boat looking up Death’s skirt.



“The Nightmare” by Henry Fuseli

From 1781

We’ve all had this same dream, right? It was later borrowed visually in Ken Russell’s 1986 horror film GOTHIC.



“Self Portrait” by Goya

From 1795

When you think about frightening paintings, you have to think of Goya. He’s so good at making creepy paintings that he can’t help but make his self-portrait creepy too.