Category Archive 'Antoine Wiertz'

30 Jun 2011

The Morbid Romanticism of Antoine Wiertz

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Antoine Joseph Wiertz, Dernières pensées et visions d’une tête coupee (Last Thoughts and Visions of a Decapitated Head), 1853

The Belgian artist Antoine Joseph Wiertz (1806-1865) devoted most of his art to expressions of the Romantic era’s obsession with death.

Wiertz took a personal interest in the scientific question of just how long consciousness survived in the head of the victim of execution by guillotine, and in 1848 used hypnosis to attempt to share the pains and rapidly fading consciousness of a murderer undergoing decapitation for the crime of bludgeoning his landlady. The result (above) was a triptych completed in 1853.

There is a state museum devoted to Wiertz’s art in Brussels.

Collected images of Wiertz’s paintings.

Jeffrey Howe essay.


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