Throughout history, man has claimed of having ‘visions’ while dreaming, visions so unsettling that they’re best forgotten. Many a times referred to as ‘near death experiences’, these men proclaimed of having witnessed the torments of hell.

Although many couldn’t seem to comprehend these sights, yet there were a select few who couldn’t help but paint their unearthly experiences on the canvas. These dreadful paintings of hell, so vividly depicted, were and are still taken as a warning ‘to mend ways’. Below are a few tormenting paintings of ‘Inferno’ by some famous artists but you’re warned beforehand. They might result in a few sleepless nights ahead.

1. Mappa dell’Inferno (Map of Hell)

Painted by the famous Italian artist Botticelli between 1480 and 1490, this painting is one of the ‘parchments’ designed to illustrate an edition of the divine Comedy by Dante. The Abyss of Hell is painted like a funnel showing 9 levels of specific sins and their respective punishments, where Lucifer himself is rooted at the last circle.

The nine levels of hell as painted by Botticelli.

The nine levels of hell as painted by Botticelli.

2. Hell: Hans Memling

This intriguingly horrifying picture is one of the greatest masterpieces by Hans Memling. Painted in the 1400’s, this painting is the left panel of a larger altarpiece depicting the sinful men and women being left to suffer in the eternal fire of hell and consumed by the colossal fish. But what catches the eye more is the grotesque demon dancing upon the damned holding a banner saying “In hell there is no redemption” draining any hope of salvation.

In hell there is no redemption.

In hell there is no redemption.

3. Dante and Virgil in hell

This painting dates back to 1850s and is William Adolphe Bouguereau’s (painter) interpretation of Dante’s Inferno. Just looking at this painting makes me twitch, one of the reasons for including it. Also, the unsettling image of a man biting into the flesh of another man, his nails snatching deep inside the other’s ribs, the agony and the strength. Both being tortured in the eighth circle of hell and made to suffer for lying while living on earth.

Punishments in hell- Hashingtag

Punishments in hell- Hashingtag

4. The Last judgement (Fra Angelico)

This renaissance artist painted an incredible illustration of hell. He divided the hell into segments- particular sins with specific punishments. He has depicted all the torments of hell one learns about while growing up. Snakes and insects feeding on souls, roasting in oil, men eating men’s flesh, fireballs being shoved forcefully in the mouth, demons worsen the sufferings and all burning in the perpetual fire of hell, their ashes being collected in a large pit. The sight of Satan munching on humans just makes the picture all the more horrifying.

The various levels of torture in hell, with Satan himself munching onto sinners in the last level.

The various levels of torture in hell, with Satan himself munching onto sinners in the last level.

5. Hell by Korean Artist

This Korean artist has been a dedicated devotee of Jesus all her life when in April, 2009 Jesus, supposedly, himself came in her dream and said “I will show you the deeper things of heaven”.  Anticipating the sights of heaven, He instead took her to hell first. Once recovered from her dream, she felt obligated to aware the world of the torments of hell.

This is one of the paintings, which I found profoundly unnerving and disturbing, of various paintings she drew to illustrate hell. “This torment was for the people who had ignored God’s word and still continued to commit sin. They are the ones who performed evil in the eyes of the Lord”. Demons would peel off the skins of the sinners and stab them endlessly.

A Korean artist's interpretation on how sinners are tormented in hell.

A Korean artist’s interpretation on how sinners are tormented in hell.