Jean Delville - Les Trésors de Sathan
Jean Delville - Les Trésors de Sathan
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Jean Delville - Les Trésors de Sathan

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Jean Delville - Les Trésors de Sathan

Jean Delville (19 January 1867 – 19 January 1953) was a Belgian symbolist painter, author, poet, polemicist, teacher, and Theosophist. Delville exhibited his Trésors de Sathan (Treasures of Satan) at the Salon de Gand in September 1895. It was then exhibited in Brussels for the first time in 1896 at Delville's first Salon d'Art Idéaliste. This was one of Delville's first 'breakthrough' paintings and one of his most important works from his artistic period up to 1895.

On the whole, Delville's works generally deal with the theme of the duality between nature (human or otherwise) and the transcendental world. Delville was an Idealist, in other words, he believed in the reality of a transcendental or spiritual dimension as the basis of reality. Our perceptual material world is, in this world-view, seen merely an illusion that brings suffering and discontent. Our goal is to spiritualise our being and refine our material selves, which includes our desires and need for the fulfillment of material satisfaction. Without a spiritual context in mind, men and women simply become deadened materialistic entities always governed by their desires, passions, greed and ego-driven need for control and power over others. This is the realm of matter, or in Delville's cosmology, the realm of Satan, who controls and governs our lower state of being. Without a spiritual goal in life, we are merely slaves to Satan and are completely submissive to his power; we become his 'treasure' as is implied in the title of this painting. Here Delville depicts Sathan as a rather attractive figure, beguiling, powerful and seductive, dragging the hapless mass of men and woman to his undersea lair. Significantly the figures are not in a state of pain or agony, as is usually the case in Western depictions of Satan's underworld. Here they appear to be in a state of reverie and bliss, unconscious of their lives and the value of the spiritual reality of their existence, and succumbing, rather, entirely to the lure of gold and sensual pleasure; in other words, material greed and sensualism that Delville saw as a trap and a catastrophic diversion from humanity's true goal which is to spiritualize one's being and enter the higher realm of consciousness and spiritual bliss which he referred to as the 'Ideal'.

Cultural Impact:

The bands Hexenhaus and Morbid Angel both used Delville's famous artwork for their respective albums, "A Tribute To Insanity" (1988) and "Blessed Are The Sick" (1991).  Later, an unlikely split between Less Than Jake and Megadeth also used the artwork (1999). This was allowable for all bands as the artwork is within the Public Domain. 

A Tribute To Insanity Tracklist:

1. It... 
2. Eaten Alive
3. Delirious 
4. As Darkness Falls
5. Incubus 
6. Death Walks Among Us 
7. Memento Moris - The Dead Are Restless
8. Requiem

Blessed Are The Sick Tracklist:

1. Intro 
2. Fall from Grace 
3. Brainstorm 
4. Rebel Lands 
5. Doomsday Celebration 
6. Day of Suffering 
7. Blessed Are the Sick / Leading the Rats 
8. Thy Kingdom Come 
9. Unholy Blasphemies 
10. Abominations 
11. Desolate Ways 
12. The Ancient Ones 
13. In Remembrance

Less Than Jake / Megadeth Split Tracklist:

1. Less than Jake - All My Best Friends Are Metalheads
2. Megadeth - The Disintegrators