The artist did not depict emotion: he depicted the subjects that produce emotion.
His earliest collections of stories and sketches, Aus Halb- Asien, Land and Leute des ostlichen Europas (1876) and Die Juden von Barnow (1877) depict graphically the life and manners of the races of southeastern Europe.
The simplest forms of these depict the objects signified by the name, as where Chapultepec or " grasshopper-hill " is represented by a grasshopper on a hill, or a stone with a cactus on it stands for Tenoch or " stonecactus," the founder of Tenochtitlan.
It was reserved for Finlay to depict, with greater knowledge and a juster perception, the lights and shades of Byzantine history.
In his design for the Hall of Council he set himself to depict this frenzy at its fiercest.