Photo: Louis Le Breton

These days, demons are more or less relegated to metal album covers, scuffed math notebooks, and night terrors, but there was once a time when they captured the imaginations of some of the world’s most talented (and, we’re guessing, most socially awkward) artists. Take Louis Le Breton, for instance, an artist who toiled away on “marine paintings” before finding a bevy of muses in the pages of Jacques Collin De Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, a thorough guide to the underworld’s fearsome denizens that would probably have faded into obscurity had it not been for Le Breton’s bizarro illustrations.

The book was initially published in 1818, though Le Breton’s additions didn’t surface until its sixth edition in 1863. Being that they’re in the public domain, they’ve since been adopted by any number of demonology texts and tattoo sleeves. The folks over at Atlas Obscura are the latest to remind us of the drawings, which envision these demons as chimeric entities with exaggerated limbs; huge, leathery wings; and beastlike companions. A few of the illustrations even depict the demons hovering over humans in bedrooms, a sign of how night terrors have long been associated with a demonic presence.

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Take a look at some of Le Breton’s work:

Photo: Louis Le Breton
Photo: Louis Le Breton

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Photo: Louis Le Breton
Photo: Louis Le Breton

Here’s an idea: Where The Wild Things Are, but with these guys.

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