The first true flowering of Satanism in erotic art came with the Belgian artist Felicien Rops (1833-1898). Rops, who had met Charles Baudelaire in Paris in 1864 and subsequently become a devoted disciple, thereafter commingled elements of death, prostitution and the Satanic in his work, particularly in his 5-picture series Les Sataniques of 1882. Pictures in this series such as The Sacrifice and Calvary are clear and explicit representations of Black Mass and Satanism which still retain their original power to shock and disturb. These images, as well as the others in Les Sataniques, can be found in LUST FOR THE DEVIL, which collects around 80 of Rops' most outlandish and confrontational works, including a section of 30 colour plates. Also to be found here are images of death and corporeal dissolution, ranging from The Death Penalty to The Dancing Corpse; images of prostitution and addiction, such as The Absinthe Drinker and Human Trash; and numerous examples of Rops' book illustrations, reproduced in editions of decadence and diabolism that include Paul Verlaine, Joséphin Péladan, and Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly's Les Diaboliques. Present too are a number of images of religious perversion, as well as several foregrounding Rops' trademark iconography - the evil and controlling power of women - ranging from The Puppet Mistress to variations of Naturalia, whose semi-defleshed subject, the "Diabolic Female”, displays her fearful bone vulva smeared with blood. These 80 images between them display the full range of Felicien Rops' darkest subject matter, revolving around his Baudelairean fusion of sex, death and Satan; they also run the gamut of the artistic techniques Rops employed, from oil painting and etching to pencils, pastels, and watercolours; and finally they reveal both the driving obsessions and skills of an artist whose reputation now places him as a foremost innovator of the 19th century.
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Félicien Rops (7 July 1833 - 23 August 1898) was a Belgian artist, and printmaker in etching and aquatint. Like the works of Charles Baudelaire, whose poetry he illustrated, his best work mingled sex, death, and Satanic images. He was closely associated with the literary movement of Symbolism and Decadence, and was one of the founding members of Société Libre des Beaux-Arts of Brussels (Free Society of Fine Arts, 1868-1876) and Les XX ("The Twenty," formed 1883).
(1848-1907) was a French novelist famous for the novel À rebours.
While looking at this flight to the black sabbath, the extracts of mandragora, the juices of solanceae and the mysterious herb concoctions women used to make their bodies glow come to my mind: and the potent philtres, the philtres with which they intoxicated themselves, composed, according to Del Rio, of menstrual blood, diseased sperm, the rotting brain of a black cat, the filled guts of a hyena, crushed testicles of a wolf and, most important, the hippomane oozing out of a mare's genitals while in heat. After this ride through the air is over, comes the inevitable descent into the infernal clearing where the Devil, as a Satyr or a Goat sticks out his naked, shit-stained, hairy arse to be kissed by the women; meanwhile the children are walking toads around a pond some distance off, for as Lancre writes, "Satan always keeps children at a distance for fear of losing them forever through the revulsion that the sight of such horrible practices may incite.” And then, the black mass is observed on the naked buttocks of a woman. The woman-witches start the banquet, cramming themselves with broth made of human flesh, the flesh of aborted infants, sucking their blood like marrow through the open navel or slit neck, and the bones are crunched, cooked with secret herbs, kept hidden for a year, become soft as boiled turnips. The bread is baked without salt which hinders spoilage. It is made of wheat blighted by mildew, fermenting with germs, poisonous and lethal. Their wine is a boiling wine made from grapes grown on vines planted in the hot lava of volcanoes. Now the drunken chorus of blasphemies resounds on all sides, communion is administered with black hosts imprinted with a goat. The torches are extinguished, man and woman, man and man, woman and woman grope each other in the dark and copulate with frenzy: everyone seeks tabooed receptacles, incestuous fornication, a son pounces on his mother, a father rapes his little daughter, brother tumbles his sister, everybody seeks to impregnate his partner to ensure that next year's sabbath will have new born children whose necks will be slit, whose flesh will be devoured, whose bones will be pickled! These hideous sabbaths were marked with an aching joy impossible to recapture now and a sensual melancholy impossible to experience today. Felicien Rops understood all this clearly and in some of his prints he has given visual, graphic life, with a terrifying apprehension, to these ghastly joys, and melancholic agony ....
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