Unspeakable Crimes 25 Gruesome Historical Depictions of Torture  

Kellen Perry
85.5k views 25 items

Throughout history, artists have used paintings, drawings, sculptures, and related mediums to depict the human experience. While at times these artworks can reflect themes of love, family, nature, and religion, there are also darker realms to the human condition. Although the idea of landscapes may be more familiar to those in the non-art world, depictions of "hellscapes" have been just as prominent.

Artists portraying scenes of death and brutality are not necessarily demonic or macabre individuals, as such presentations of pain and suffering align with our history's truth. In a sense, these graphic scenes tell a larger tale, one that contexualizes the evolution of both humanity and society as a whole. Historical illustrations and paintings of torture may be considered taboo, but these artistic truths offer audiences the opportunity to broach controversial topics. 

The Judgment of Cambyses - Gerard David, 1498, Netherlands

The Judgment of Cambyses - Ger... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 25 Gruesome Historical Depictions of Torture
Photo:  Gerard David/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew - Mattia Preti, 1660, Italy

The Martyrdom of St. Bartholom... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 25 Gruesome Historical Depictions of Torture
Photo:  Mattia Preti/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Codex Balduini Trevirensis - Artist Unknown, 14th Century, Germany

Codex Balduini Trevirensis - A... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 25 Gruesome Historical Depictions of Torture
Photo: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Folter mit Hunden - Artist Unknown, 1548, Germany

Folter mit Hunden - Artist Unk... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 25 Gruesome Historical Depictions of Torture
Photo: Aus Johan Sumpfs Schweizer Chronik/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain