Satan sement l'ivraie (premier planche). (Satan Sowing Tares). 1878. Heliogravure touched with soft-ground etching. Exsteens 927.i/iv. Image: 9 1/2 x 6 3/8; Plate: 10 7/8 x 8; sheet: 17 1/8 x 12 3/8. Series: Les Sataniques. An atmospheric, tonal impression printed on Japanese vellum. Signed in red pencil.
At first glance, the image seems to be of a farmer sowing seeds in a field. Actually Satan is striding over a city, presumably Paris, with one foot on Notre Dame. He is throwing down women, presumably loose women, to destroy the moral life of the city. Rops is commenting on the hedonism of Paris life. He was also interested in the Satanism movement popular at the time. This is one of the artist's most dramatic images. Rops was born in Belgium. He settled in Paris in 1874, welcomed by Puvis de Chavannes and Gustave Moreau. He worked closely with Baudelaire. Rops was fascinated by the fantastic and the supernatural, and his themes are frequently Symbolist in kind. The devil, skeletons, the prostitute, and death are the Baudelairian accessories of his art. Huysmans stated that Rops "celebrated that spiritualism of Luxury that is Satanism, and painted, in pages that cannot be perfected, the supernaturalism of perversity, the otherworld of Evil."
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