Home > Norman Neasom Exhibition > Neasom. N (Watercolours) > 36x Seven Deadly Sins

36x Seven Deadly Sins by Paintings by Norman Neasom (1915 - 2010)

36x Seven Deadly Sins by Paintings by Norman Neasom (1915 - 2010)

Seven Deadly Sins

Watercolour - Signed and dated 1936

Image Area: 21ins x 29ins

People have always been immoral, shiftless, self-gratifying, good-for-nothing shits but humankind struggled to find a system to optimise their spiritual shortcomings. The challenge was formidable and the system had to be complex and inclusive enough to implicate a vast range of disgusting behaviour, yet simple and memorable enough to inspire guilt in an illiterate peasant.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Church hierarchy emphasized teaching all lay people the Deadly Sins and Heavenly Virtues. Other spiritual manuals embellished on this tradition. Gerson presents a list of Contrary Virtues in his ABC des simples gens, which was derived from the Psychomatica, or Battle for the Soul, a fifth-century epic poem by Prudentius. He believed these virtues would help counteract temptation toward the Deadly Sins.

According to The Picture Book of Devils, Demons and Witchcraft, by Ernst and Johanna Lehner, each of the Sins was associated with a specific punishment in Hell. The set of 16th-century engravings by George Pencz used animals, colour and women to symbolize all the Sins, which was probably okay in the sociopolitical climate of the 16th century but probably wouldn't be encouraged nowadays.

Sin Punishment in Hell Animal Color
Pride broken on the wheel Horse Violet
Envy put in freezing water Dog Green
Anger dismembered alive Bear Red
Sloth thrown in snake pits Goat Light Blue
Greed put in cauldrons of boiling oil Frog Yellow
Gluttony forced to eat rats, toads, and snakes Pig Orange
Lust smothered in fire and brimstone Cow Blue

The last of the paintings in the trilogy of Norman's work whilst he was at the Birmingham College of Art. Up until this time Norman had been reading the works of Homer's, the Iliad and the Odyssey, literature that had influenced him until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War which had a devastating influence on his outlook and was to dramatically change his attitude to life and his interests in Homer would not be rekindled for another 15 years.

This work is in a private collection

Enquire - send an email to us