Devil Portrait

Devil Portrait, 290r

The portrait of the Devil is the most famous image in the Codex Gigas (f. 290r), and it is the cause of the the book’s nickname, the Devil’s Bible. The Devil is shown alone, in an empty landscape, within a frame formed by two large towers. He is crouching with his arms held up (he has only four fingers and toes) and wears an ermine loin cloth. Ermine is usually associated with royalty, and its use here is to emphasise the position of the Devil as the prince of darkness.

The portrait was intended to remind the viewer of sin and evil. It is opposite a page with a representation of the Heavenly City and the two pages were deliberately planned to show the advantages of a good life and the disadvantages of a bad one.

Portraits of the Devil are common in medieval art, but this one in the Codex Gigas may be unique in books for showing him alone and occupying a whole page.