Antoine Wiertz, The Premature Burial (L'inhumation précipitée)

Musée Wiertz, Brussels

Date: 1854
Technique: Oil on canvas, 160 x 235 cm

Art commentator, Jeffery Howe, suggests that Wiertz was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, in whose fiction premature burial is a recurring theme (e.g. the short story entitled The Premature Burial, Madeleine in The Fall Of The House Of Usher, and Fortunato in The Cask Of Amontillado). Poe had been dead five years by the time this painting appeared, though doubtless would have approved of its memorable evocation of a fervid, nightmarish scene. In fact, the work of Wiertz, Poe and Lautréamont (Maldoror and Poems) - all three working around the same time - displays a common obsession with extreme states of consciousness, manifest in romanticised imagery of menacing, grotesque, violent, erotic and tragic proportions.


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