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Dark Satanic Mills



Personal piece. The title of this picture comes from William Blake's poem Jerusalem. It was one of many sources of inspiration, chief among which was an incredible passage from H.G Wells' book In The Days of the Comet. Here's the line that inspired me; the main character surveying the full horror of the wholesale industrialisation of his native valley in the late 19th century...

"I will admit that with the twilight there came a spell of weird magnificence over all that land and brooded on it until dawn. The horrible meanness of its details was veiled, the hutches that were homes, the bristling multitudes of chimneys, the ugly patches of unwilling vegetation amidst the makeshift fences of barrel-stave and wire. The rusty scars that framed the opposite ridges where the iron ore was taken and the barren mountains of slag from the blast furnaces were veiled; the reek and boiling smoke and dust from foundry, pot-bank, and furnace, transfigured and assimilated by the night.

The dust-laden atmosphere that was gray oppression through the day became at sundown a mystery of deep translucent colors, of blues and purples, of somber and vivid reds, of strange bright clearnesses of green and yellow athwart the darkling sky. Each upstart furnace, when its monarch sun had gone, crowned itself with flames, the dark cinder heaps began to glow with quivering fires, and each pot-bank squatted rebellious in a volcanic coronet of light. The empire of the day broke into a thousand feudal baronies of burning coal.

The minor streets across the valley picked themselves out with gas-lamps of faint yellow, that brightened and mingled at all the principal squares and crossings with the greenish pallor of incandescent mantles and the high cold glare of the electric arc. The interlacing railways lifted bright signal-boxes over their intersections, and signal stars of red and green in rectangular constellations. The trains became articulated black serpents breathing fire."

I was also inspired by the work of John Atkinson Grimshaw…

This picture is a companion piece of this other
Image size
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© 2010 - 2023 PeteAmachree
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oldgallego's avatar
i am wondering if you are also familiar with george bellows. his paintings of new york came to mind when i saw this. it is a wonderful painting.