Philip James de Loutherbourg had a flair for the dramatic. In addition to his career as a painter, he was also an occultist, faith healer and the inventor of an extraordinary mechanical theater, called the “Eidophusikon,” upon which he staged early motion pictures. Many of his works are fiery and apocalyptic, as in this depiction of the angel binding Satan, from Revelation, chapter 20:
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.”
The image was created for Thomas Macklin’s Bible, produced in 1800, where it appears as an engraving. Satan is rendered malformed and grotesque, his face a half-skull, his legs tapering into long serpent tails. Weakened and bound to the inferno, he reverts to his truest form. The key to the abyss held aloft against the backdrop of Heaven’s light, the towering angel pins him to the rocks.