‘Succession’ uses famous paintings to play up the drama

The BBC’s new drama “Succession,” which was released in the US on June 3rd and will air on HBO later this year, has prompted a wave of attention. What makes it so special? It uses famous paintings to create an entirely new narrative that is worth every minute!

“Succession” is a new TV series that uses famous paintings to play up the drama.



“Succession,” a TV comedy-drama series about how vehement family feuds can be, is gaining a cult following that perplexes me. It’s difficult to discern predator from victim since the backbiting is so relentless.

The supporters of war

Based on 84 reviews, Rotten Tomatoes gives this battle a whopping 88 percent. Instead than criticizing success, I praise the production decisions made for all of the art in the backdrop.

Valentina Di Liscia, writing for Hyperallergic, agrees, adding that Peter Paul Rubens’ painting “Bloody Tiger Hunt,” which appears in the first season’s advertising poster, typifies this family’s feuding.

Di Liscia is presently pursuing a master’s degree in art at my alma university, where I also pursued a master’s degree in art. Maybe that’s why I agree with everything she says.

But I don’t believe that is the case. Truth is not an opinion, and what she says about Rubens’ picture “setting the scene for what was to follow” in the TV series is correct.

Art as a character in a play

Rubens’ chaotic arrangement of tigers, men, and horses, of course, embodies the crazy goings-on in “Succession,” and you don’t need art critics to tell you that. One may argue that the painter is one of the characters.

While Rubens is named here, his work, especially the out-of-control-looking “Bloody Tiger Hunt,” was not credited by everyone in the art world.

It was “bombastic,” according to Van Gogh.

Rubens “overpowers with all his liberty and daring,” according to Delacroix. “Unfortunate lack of sincerity and incapability of sincere enthusiasm,” Ruskin observed. Surprisingly, that’s exactly how “Succession” strikes me.

In the second season, William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s “Dante and Virgil” was visible in the backdrop of a family supper, according to Di Liscia.

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“It’s a telling moment,” she says.

As an explanation,

Bouguereau’s picture depicts a scene from Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” in which Virgil, Dante’s guide in Hell, comes to a halt to watch two condemned souls battle.

We are Virgil and Dante, and we are witnessing the feuding Roy family members paw at each other indefinitely.

My kudos to the “Succession” makers for putting these paintings to such effective use.

Visual art is not used by all film makers. I’m thinking of Frederick Hart’s wall sculpture from the Washington National Cathedral, which was used in the 1996 film “The Devil’s Advocate.”

Insanity in the movies

However, the significance of the artist’s work was severely distorted. The video puts these figures in motion to writhe in orgiastic behaviors, while Hart’s sculpture symbolizes the Creation of Humankind with naked figures rising from chaos.

Because “The Devil’s Advocate” is about Satan (Al Pacino), Hart’s wall sculpture on Satan’s wall not only misappropriates it, but also turns it into a diabolical message.

Hart successfully sued Warner Brothers, forcing the studio to delete many sequences from “The Devil’s Advocate” in which the warped sculpture was visible.

Meanwhile, Bouguereau and Rubens are probably performing a victory dance since their paintings are incorporated in “Succession” in such a clever manner.


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The “succession season 3” is a new show on HBO that uses famous paintings to play up the drama. The show has been renewed for a third season.

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  • dante and virgil painting analysis
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  • the tiger hunt (1615–17) by rubens
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