Art In Video Games: Classic, Contemporary and Folk Art in Resident Evil Village

Monday 14 March 2022

Like several games of the Resident Evil saga before it, Village also has its fair share of art to showcase, only in this case its galleries are a bit more varied. There are the favorite and always present elements of classic art, others of modern art, but additionally this time, since the game takes place in the Eastern Europe, there are also elements of folk art and culture as well.

The main stages where we come across pieces of art in the game are Ethan's house, the Castle Dimitrescu, the House Beneviento, and the main village section. Unfortunately neither Moreau's Reservoir nor Heisenberg's factory have any art to exhibit, although it would have been so interesting to see the possible artistic taste of those two characters.

Ethan's house is simply decorated with collections of photographs depicting rural scenes, family snapshots and a few pieces of modern art.

There is a photograph of a snowy forest that can be seen in several spots around the house, which kind of foreshadows the upcoming adventure:

There are several artistic corners where the photos and paintings are arranged in groups, like above the fireplace, where there is also a small statuette of a weeping angel which again foreshadows the tragic events in Ethan's life.

On the walls of the house, there are sets of photographs and modern art that seem to have been put up almost randomly. There are photos of flowers, mountains and fields, quite possibly depicting places of the region where Ethan and Mia live at the start of the story.

Some of the photos, like that of the red sunset, do create an uneasy feeling, however.

There is an abstract painting with gloomy colors that can be seen in more than one places:

Another abstract painting in deep red color decorates another wall: 

There is also a painting of a bouquet, which looks a bit out of place, considering the overall style of the house's decoration:

This seems to be in the style of art like Flowers in a Glass Vase by Rachel Ruysch (1704).

The Winterses also seem to have an extensive collection of decorative plates in folk style:

When Ethan arrives in the Castle Dimitrescu, the first painting that he sees is a giant portrait depicting the three Dimitrescu daughters, Bela, Cassandra and Daniela.

This is an existing painting called The Three Robinson Sisters, by George Theodore Berthon (1846). This is one of the very few paintings that can be seen in only one spot, on this specific wall in this empty room.

In the corridor outside, there are two more portraits depicting two men, possibly supposed ancestors of the Dimitrescu family.

These are among the many portraits and paintings in the castle that can be seen on several walls in rooms and corridors, and both of them are also existing paintings. 

The upper one is in fact a combination of two paintings: The body is from the portrait of Marcotte d' Argenteuil by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1810) and the head is from the portrait of Léon Riesener by Eugene Delacroix (1835). A tribute to Leon Kennedy, perhaps?

The lower one is a portrait of Hungarian musician Franz Liszt by an anonymous artist.

Closeby is a painting depicting a gloomy castle, possibly alluring to the very same castle we are exploring.

This again is an existing painting, called The Enchanted Castle, by Claude Lorrain (1664). This painting is said to have inspired British Romantic poet John Keats to write his poem "Ode To A Nightingale". It is one of the many paintings that can be seen on many walls in the castle.

Similarly, another painting that appears in many rooms and places is this one depicting a nautical scene:

Which is also an existing painting called Barges on the Volga by Fyodor Vasilyev (1870), although if you notice carefully, you will see some extra details have been added, probably to make it look more eery and match the atmosphere of the castle.

In the room that's next to the one where Ethan finds himself hanged up after the Dimitrescu ladies attack him, there is a spooky painting entitled "Maidens of the Harvest".

This painting is clearly made specifically for the game, its title reflecting the way the members of the Dimitrescu family "harvest" victims (which also is marginally literal, if you consider that the daughters usually carry a small sickle). It seems, however, to have been inspired by the painting Nymphs Dancing To Pan's Flute, by Joseph Tomanek (1920). It is one of the unique paintings in the castle.

In the same room, there is a circular portrait of a girl, which also can be seen on various walls.

It is yet one more existing painting, The Tambourine Girl, by Friedrich August Kaulbach

Above the fireplace in the same room, there is an imposing portrait of a lady holding a cup of tea.

This again is a combination of two existing paintings: the body is from the portrait of Mary Chamberlain by John Everett Millais (1891) and the head is from the portrait of Maria Alexandrovna by Winterhalter (1857).

In the same room, which looks like a gallery of sorts, we can have a better look at a replica of Liszt's portrait.

As well as a replica of the Marcotte d' Argenteuil / Léon Riesener portrait in better spot and light:

On another wall of this room, there is a large painting which can be seen on plenty of walls in the castle. It depicts a hunting scene, showing a man (possibly a hunter or a gamekeeper) who is having his horses rest while three Spaniel dogs watch playfully nearby.

Although this looks like an existing painting, no exact or even remote match can be located anywhere; the artistic style does look familiar, however, and its theme can be found in several paintings of the 16th - 17th century, like in A Grey Hunter with a Groom and a Greyhound at Creswell Crags by George Stubbs, or The Gamekeeper by an unknown artist. What is weird about the painting, however, is that the man is not dressed like a hunter or a gamekeeper, and I couldn't help but notice that the posture of his head and his facial expression and features resemble a lot those of Maja in the drawing Old Beggar and a Maja by Francisco Goya.

In the corridor outside that room, there are several of the paintings we have already seen in the castle, but the most prominent one is that of a smiling girl in a red dress, which showed up first in the anteroom of the main hall, but here we can see it more clearly.

Again this is a combination of two existing paintings. The body is from the portrait of Judith by Eglon Hendrick van der Neer (1678), with the color of the dress changed to red, and the head is from the painting La Printempts (Spring) by Emile Vernon (1913).

On the upper corridor of the main hall, there is a big portrait of a man, which also can be found on several other walls.

It doesn't seem to have an exact match with a real painting, but it is very similar to many existing ones, like the portrait of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, or that of Heneage Finch, 1st Earl of Nottingham, both by Peter Lely.

The artistic style changes abruptly in the Tasting Room, which is only decorated with two small paintings.  

One rather dark and eery, depicting a lake scene:

And one that resembles the bouquet painting from Ethan's house, only in this one the flowers look like they are melting:

The dining room is decorated with familiar paintings like The Enchanted Castle and the Mary Chamberlain / Maria Alexandrovna portrait:

 The Tambourine Girl also shows up on a side wall:

And the Barges on the Volga painting is above a cabinet:

In the main hall just outside the dining room, there is a creepy photograph on a cabinet, depicting a lake on the shores of which are hanging what seem to be dead bodies:

In the wine room, there is again Liszt's portrait:

 And there is also the Marcotte d' Argenteuil / Léon Riesener portrait:

While looking for Dimitrescu's chambers, Ethan goes up a staircase where, next to a replica of the Enchanted Castle, there is a tapestry with an Ancient Greek theme:

This is part of an existing larger painting, The Intervention of the Sabine Women, by Jacques - Louis David (1799).

In a small room near Alcina's private chamber there is another impressive tapestry hanging on the wall.

The same tapestry can be spotted along the staircase leading to that wing of the castle, and its motif is an existing one. It is a handmade Aubusson tapestry from the 16th century.

In the Opera Hall section, there is a painting depicting three people, two standing and one crouched down:

This is yet one more combination of two paintings. The three people's bodies are from St John The Baptist Baptizing The People by Nicolas Poussin (1635), while their heads are from the painting Et In Arcadia Ego, again by Nicolas Poussin (1637).

In the room with the defunct labyrinth there is a headless bronze male statue next to a small painting depicting two harps and a lyre.

In the Atelier room, there is a painting which is actually the hint to solve the bells puzzle.

In the same room, there is also the compelling giant portrait of Lady Dimitrescu.

This was apparently made specifically for the game, and it is one of the unique paintings that appear in one place only.

In the same room there are some marble busts, which also appear in several places throughout the castle as well, but what is maybe the most interesting find in this room is the stuffed thorn-back tortoise, which is like the one from the collection of Chief Irons in Resident Evil 2 Remake.

 In the attic, there is a a headless bronze female statue:

There is also again a headless bronze male statue, next to a vase with a tribal motif:

There are more statues around the castle, mostly marble. They can be seen in the halls:

Also in puzzle rooms, like the Hall of Ablution:

Sometimes they are used to frame doorways:

The original receptacles holding the four angel masks needed to open the exit are also statues depicting what look like scenes of sacrifice:

The Castle Dmitrescu seems to be in a completely different vibe from the rest of the village, the humble houses of which have nothing of the ostentatious luxury of the Dimitrescu residence. Their narrow interiors are mostly decorated with plates similar to the ones seen in Ethan's house:

A common painting found in several houses is that depicting two adorable cats: 

In the first house that Ethan explores, there is a painting with a floral motif, quite possibly folk - inspired:

In the houses there are also vintage photographs depicting domestic scenes, like this one showing a woman working at her loom:

Other photographs depict rural activities, like this one where a woman is feeding her ducks:

In that first house, there is also a painting of a lake scene with a cabin at its shore, a scenery which resembles the area outside the castle where Ethan arrives after leaving the battle stage with Alcina.

Due to Mother Miranda's influence over the area, there are several pictures in the houses depicting religious themes, and most of them can also be seen together in the church:

The church itself is decorated on the exterior with byzantine iconographies:

While outside, in the main village area, there is a statue of a girl holding a shield and a sword. She looks like she is supposed to be the guardian of the village:

She is the same girl depicted on the Maiden crest which Ethan has to place on its receptacle together with the Demon crest, in order to complete the mural and open the gate leading to the castle:

The only house which looks a bit more well-to-do than the others, is Louiza's house, not only because it is evidently bigger but also because of its more elegant and artistic decoration.

Louiza even has one of the modern art paintings that we saw back at Ethan's house:

She even has the portrait of Liszt and the one of Marcotte d' Argenteuil / Léon Riesener. Maybe she's also related to the Dimitrescu bloodline?

In Louiza's house, we can also see the photographs depicting rural and domestic activities found in the rest of the houses, as well as the painting of the eery lake with the cabin:

There is also one more photograph that we first saw in Ethan's house, the one showing a snowy forest. Probably it's a local trend to have that photo hanging on your wall.

Louiza has more modern art in her house: a classic-looking Still Life and a abstract painting with a bizzare geometrical shape:

In the infamous house with the red chimney, where Ethan finds an important item, there is a vintage wedding photo portrait of a couple:

In Luthier's house, there is a calendar which looks like it has violins painted for every month. Luthier was a craftsman who made violins and other string instruments, so naturally his house has several such elements in and around it.

On the grounds of House Beneviento, there is a chilling atmosphere of decadence, and this is reflected as well in the art that is used to decorate the places. 

On the way to the house, there is a gloomy statue depicting a child carrying grapes. Baby Bacchus perhaps?

A few steps further, there is a statue of a girl carrying water pots.

The interior of the house is very interesting because its decoration seems to incorporate elements from all the other areas: Ethan's house, the village residences and the Castle.

In its main hall, the living room and the sitting room there are decorative plates, like the ones in the village houses:

But Donna, being naturally a lot richer than the other villagers, also has more expensive plates, like the ones found in Ethan's house:

There is also the melting version of Ethan's bouquet painting hanging on a couple of the Beneviento residence walls.

Of course Donna has the photo of the creepy lake with the hanging dead bodies.

 She also has the abstract painting with the geometrical shape seen in Louiza's house:

There is also the Still Life painting, also found on one of Louiza's walls:

She also has one of the snowy mountain photos from the Winters home:

Another piece of modern art found in Donna's residence that we first saw in Ethan's house is this abstract red painting:

There is also the painting of the man with the two horses and the three dogs, from the Castle:

The Tambourine Girl portrait is seen as well on a wall:

Another painting from the Castle that can be spotted in the Beneviento residence is the portrait of the standing man with the white collar:

Donna, however, has her own unique collection of mostly morbid vintage photos that decorate her walls, and are only found in her house and match her obnoxious state of mind.

First of all, it's the photo of a small child with a white cat.

If you look closely, you will notice that this may not be a real child, but a doll.

Then it's a photo depicting what looks like doll sitting on a chair, in a room which is most likely a doll's house, since everything around the doll is so small.

 There is also a photo showing a pile of doll parts (or are they human bones?)

There is a photo depicting two kids, a boy and a girl; the girl specifically looks like it's a result of the infamous "Post-Mortem Photography" trend of the mid-1800s.

As a side-note, the way that Donna herself poses with Angie on her lap in this render, reminds of the trend of the "Hidden Mother Photography" of around the same time, rising many questions as to how much of a doll Angie was after all.

A vintage painting that appears on many walls in Donna's house is this one:

It doesn't have an exact match, but it's clearly an illustration inspired by the children's story "The Pied Piper of Hamelin", taken maybe from a very old edition. A similar depiction of this same scene in the tale is this one by Kate Greenaway from Robert Browning's version (1888).

All of these pictures can be seen around the house separately or in groups, as is the case here:

There is also an interactive picture of a pregnant woman, which is in horizontal position the first time that you pass by it.

After a few pieces of the puzzle are put together, one of the ropes holding the picture gets cut, and the woman appears in a standing position, only if you pay more attention you will see that it looks like she is hanged.

But the most impressive piece of art in the Beneviento residence is definitely the huge portrait on the stairwell that depicts Donna herself with Angie, her beloved doll and alter ego.

Coming from a dark and decadent Victorian past, as if out of time and place, Donna is much more vivid in this painting than she probably ever was in her entire life.


Unknown said...

Thanks for this! I only watched the gameplay so I couldn’t get these pictures myself. Even the references are greatly appreciated

hisbrokenbutterfly said...

Thank you!