"I wrote 63 songs this year. They're all about Jeter." Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls' Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don't forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: August 15, 2012

Submitted by on August 15, 2012 – 4:47 PM11 Comments

I'm hoping the readers can help me and my brother out. Growing up, my parents had an art print of an angel peeking through the keyhole in Hell's door. This hung in every house we lived in for as long as we can remember. The last time my parents moved, the print was either damaged in the move itself or shortly after by water in the basement before they got a chance to hang it.

It's been years since then, but they just bought a new house and are about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, and my brother and I are grown and have disposable incomes now, so we thought we would replace it for them. The problem is, neither of us can find it despite hours of Googling innumerable possible combinations of words.

Here's what we remember:

  • the painting is cartoonish in nature (I'm not sure of the medium; could be watercolor)
  • the background is light pink in the center, fading to white at the edges
  • the door says "Hell" on it
  • there is a single word below the painting itself — we think it's the artist's name — in large red letters (could be Miko — there's almost certainly an "i" in it — though that's not turning anything up)

I realize that's not much, but it really is that simple — an angel sneaking a peek at Hell through the keyhole of the door. I mean, I could practically draw the thing from memory, but I don't think that would be suitable for framing. I've searched everything I can think of ("keyhole of hell" returns some interesting image results), including Philadelphia-area museum collections, since that's where we lived when we first remember it (in the early to mid-1980s) — I thought maybe they'd seen it at an exhibit and bought a print. No luck. I could just ask my parents, but we would really love for it to be a surprise. Any help would be appreciated.

Melanie and Nate

Be Sociable, Share!



  • Colleen says:

    I had no luck searching either, but perhaps you could hit the Regretsy forums. If you can't find an exact duplicate, maybe you can find someone to make an homage to the original? Perhaps incorporating some of your other family traditions or in-jokes?

  • Kim says:

    Possibly, maybe, Hugo Simberg,"Peasant and Death at the Gates of Heaven and Hell"? It's watercolor, sort of cartoonish, and the Hell-gate appears to feature a keyhole (And looks like a door to me!). Death and angels seem to figure in his stuff, so maybe your memory is a pastiche?

    Mazel tov to your folks!

  • Mary @ Parenthood says:

    Have you tried asking a curator? Quite a lot of art is not searchable online (copyright)

  • Melanie says:

    Thanks for the help, you guys. Clearly everyone is as stumped as we are. The name came to me in the middle of the night last night – Nitka – and my brother confirmed. I googled that, and I'm nearly positive it's cartoonist Louis Nitka, but I can't find the work itself. I'm going to keep searching – Mary's suggestion of asking a curator is a good one.

  • c8h10n4o2 says:

    It looks like he's on Facebook as well. You might just try shooting him a private message and asking him for help.

  • phineyj says:

    His artwork seems to have been published in book form in the 60s and 70s, some of it in Britain. I can't find it in any searchable archives but some of the books are available: (I can't say 'Skiing with Nitka' or 'Olly Fant goes Motor Racing' sound likely sources of your image, but if it was from a book and you can find that book, you could have it scanned).

  • phineyj says:

    Another possibly useful book search service (ships worldwide):

  • Bopper says:

    Btw I tried got it from going to the French google site since he is french and googling on "louis Nikta" enfer (enfer being "hell" in french)

    Oh no I have told you all my google queen secrets! :-)

  • Melanie says:

    Bopper! YOU DID IT! Thank you so much! Now I just have to figure out how to get a print.

  • Cat_slave says:

    What a lovely picture – I do understand why you wanted to find it again :-) It reminds me a bit of a Swedish comic creator named Jan Romare.

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>