Interestingly, though, even as people prepared for Heaven, most of the artists represented in the exhibition portrayed it as a pretty boring place.
In Flemish painter Master of James IV of Scotland’s illustration of the Biblical story of “The Feast of Dives,” for example, Heaven simply contains blue skies, a few trees and some winged angels milling about.
Hell, on the other hand, is filled with serpents, demons and other interesting looking monsters that pass the time jabbing Dives with pitchforks after he’s been dispatched there for refusing to aid the beggar Lazarus.
Morrison, noting the contrast, says it’s likely that, as with the making of horror films today, Hell and all the evil it represents was simply much easier for artists of the Middle Ages to illustrate, especially after they unleashed their imaginations.
“When you hear people talking about Heaven, even nowadays, it’s like well, maybe there’s a field and birds tweeting and sunlight and it’s a good temperature,” she said. “But if you think about Hell you can come up with 30 images off the top of your head: There’s demons, there’s pain, there’s fire, there’s grills, there’s a devil … “