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A Glimpse into Hell, or Fear

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Elihu Vedder
American, 1836–1923

About this artwork

Elihu Vedder probed questions of the mind in his paintings and illustrations, creating complex, visionary compositions often centered on literary or spiritual subject matter. The lunette A Glimpse into Hell, or Fear is drawn from 14th-century poet Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of his epic poem, Divine Comedy. Here, five females confront the gate of Hell. Beholding such a sight, they express apprehension and fear, accentuated by the swirling forms of their draperies and hair. Vedder focused on the figures’ psychological tension, rather than the spectacle of the environs itself, depicting only a sliver of fiery flames at bottom left.


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Arts of the Americas


Elihu Vedder


A Glimpse into Hell, or Fear


Rome (Place depicted)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

c. 1888–1898


Oil on canvas


40 × 52.4 cm (15 3/4 × 20 5/8 in.)

Credit Line

George F. Harding Collection

Reference Number


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