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” by William Blake
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.
“Saturn Devouring His Son” by Francisco Goya
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 Velazqauez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X” by Francis Bacon
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
Please be sure to note the cute little puppy dog eating the little bloody bits of flesh that fall down.
“Anatomical Pieces” by Theodore Gericault
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” by Artemisia Gentileschi
I’m going to assume this guy said the wrong thing to these two ladies.
“Water Ghost” by Alfred Kubin
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
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
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.