As Halloween draws near

I’ll drop a few images to fit the season. Below, Death and the Maiden (1915) by Egon Schiele, in the collection of the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria. Representations of Death became scarce as the 20th Century grew, but the onset of the First World War made it timely. Schiele himself was about to be conscripted. His long, thin figures, their bones and muscles carefully delineated, remind us of that thin line between life and Death. The touches of red at the woman’s knees, ankles, and hands suggest suffering, while the blush on her cheeks and her lipstick say that life has not yet left her. Death is slightly huddled – who is embracing whom here? – not the commanding, frightening figure of medieval representations. At bottom is a version of the subject by Sebald Beham (1500-1550), a German artist, which dates to 1546.

Schiele himself would die three years later, not from the war, but from the Spanish flu.

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