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Art / The Seven Deadly Sins (Dix)

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The Seven Deadly Sins, by Otto Dix, is an oil and tempera painting made in 1933.

It was done as a deliberate allegory illustrating the political situation that was happening in Germany at the time, having made it after the Nazi Party deprived him of his teaching job at the Dresden Academy of Art.

Not to be confused with the trope Seven Deadly Sins.

This artwork provides examples of:

  • Allegory: The painting as a whole was made to be a Satire of interwar German society. Each of the Seven Deadly Sins reflects a different, negative facet that has led to Fascism taking over. Greed, Gluttony, and Envy (who looks like Hitler) together mean that the fascists' ambition for a "better Germany" is jealousy over what other countries have. Sloth looks like the reaper because it signifies how complacency to tyranny leads to death and suffering. Lust represents both hunger for power and the ability to sell one's dignity to obtain riches. Wrath's demonic appearance represents how people lost their humanity when enraged. Along with Lust, it's the root of discrimination. Pride is a literal take on getting big-headed out of arrogance.
  • Character Title: The title alludes to both the painting's Central Theme and the fact the Christian Seven Deadly Sins are presented as Anthropomorphic Personifications.
  • Embodiment of Vice: It's an allegorical portrait of the Seven Cardinal Sins as monstrous-looking humanoids.
    • Greed is an old woman, bent over in the lower-lefthand corner, clutching her cane in one hand and a back of coins in the other.
    • Envy is the toddler wearing a mask with a toothbrush mustache riding on Greed's back.
    • Sloth is dressed in a head-to-toe skeleton costume carrying a Sinister Scythe.
    • Lust is a woman in an orange dress that exposes one of her breasts and has makeup smeared all over her face as if she just had intercourse.
    • Wrath is the furry-horned demon to the left of Sloth.
    • Pride is the giant-headed figure right behind Sloth, its giant nose turned up and its mouth looking like a sphincter.
    • Gluttony is the figure in the upper-righthand corner, wearing a cooking pot on its head.
  • Godwin's Law of Facial Hair: Envy is portrayed as a hunched toddler with a toothbrush mustache. As the painting is a critique of interwar German society, Envy is very much meant to evoke Hitler—after all, he rose in power by fanning the flames of discontent and jealousy toward other countries and ethnic groups.
  • The Notable Numeral: It applies because the painting depicts the seven sins as anthropomorphic personifications.
  • Sinister Nudity: The embodiment of the capital sin Lust is presented as a prostitute liberally showing her breasts as if tempting the audience. However, she wears a creepy, depraved expression and is ugly. She's an allegory for how pre-war Nazi Germany would sell its decency to get more power.
  • Take That!: Envy, the fish-eyed toddler riding on the back of a decrepit old woman representing Greed, is deliberately based on Adolf Hitler. The trimmed, square mustache is the major indication of this.