In 1647, Flemish artist David Teniers the Younger (son-in-law of Jan Brueghel the Elder and grandson-in-law of Pieter Brueghel the Elder) painted an interesting Baroque rendition of Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man, who dressed in purple and fine linen and lived a life of luxury, ignores the pleas of Lazarus the sore-covered beggar when he arrives at his door longing to eat the scraps fallings from his table. Soon, Lazarus dies and is lifted to Abraham’s side by angels whereas the rich man is condemned to hell, from where he looks up in the middle of great torment to converse with Abraham. Teniers captures the moment when he is standing at the entrance of hell, which he imagines as a cave surrounded by a variety of festive, frolicsome demons.
Here is an explanation:
The subject has an overall heavy, sinister and ominous tone to it and the intention of this painting is to depict the moralistic concepts of Jesus’ teachings with its strong emphasis on caring for others. […] There is a strong element of chiaroscuro which has the effect of bringing a dramatic notion to the scene. The hot iridescent orange glow emerging from hell illuminates the figures of the rich man and two of the demons. The enables Tenniers to highlight and pay particular attention to the expressions and features of these figures, enabling the observer to see the inner emotional anguish of the rich man whose facial expression reflects his fear at the prospect of his oncoming fate and his hands are raised in immense terror. It also enables the viewer to see the demons’ malevolent sneering expression at their delight in claiming a new victim to torture. They are very much reminiscent of Bosch’s winged demonic figures in their spectral and nightmarish forms and both of these qualities are further enhanced by the application of silhouette. The demons vary in height and there is only one short figure. The variations of levels in height remind one of the varying levels of punishment that the damned would be subjected to in hell. There is a considerable amount of space surrounding the main action which gives a sense of isolation, reflecting one of the emotions people would experience in hell. Despite the amount of space most of the figures are crowded together into one area, communicating the chaos and disorder of hell.
~ Sharon Noviss, Infinite Wisdom: A History of Christian Art (2012)