Artists of the Northern Renaissance were master storytellers. Hell was a place where fallen angels turned into grotesque beings that would create an environment of pure torture for the damned. Fellow Northern Renaissance artist, Hieronymus Bosch, is particularly well known for his fanciful and disturbing scenes depicting human decadence and the results of that decadence in the afterlife.
Preceding their Dutch and Flemish counterparts, Italian Renaissance artists painted intricately detailed Last Judgement scenes of the good being separated from the evil, the damned being pulled into the underworld and the beasts that would haunt them once they got there.
Depictions of hell in the Middle Ages were mainly in the form of illuminated books of hours, or in manuscripts such as reprinted versions of Dante's The Divine Comedy. The underworld was typically shown as a dark but orderly place with Satan presiding over his court.
The Coronation of the Virgin by Enguerrand Quarton
Quarton's epic panel displays all the realms of human existence in amazing detail: the earthly realm, the heavens, purgatory and hell. Below is a detail of the earthly realm with an angel leading the saved out of purgatory (left) while a demon guards the damned in a fiery pit (right).