Thursday, October 10, 2019

October Offerings: "Life and Death" by an unknown artist

Happy October!  Every week this month I will be posting at least one spooktacular offering appropriate for this delightfully scary season.

[credit: Life and Death by an unknown artist, 18th century. Wellcome Collection, London. CC BY 4.0, no changes.]

Confronting mortality is never easy; it's often easier to ignore the reality of our limited time on Earth in favor of focusing on work, relationships, leisure--and anything else that keeps our minds far away from a subject that is less than pleasant for most people to consider. Yet despite the unpleasantness of confronting the eventuality of death--or perhaps because of that unpleasantness--artists have long created pieces meant to remind anyone who sees them that Death is something that cannot be ignored.

This piece by an unknown artist was created sometime during the 18th century and reflects many similar pieces created around this time period, such as the popular "Life and Death Contrasted" pieces published by engraver Valentine Green.

The above work, like the similar engraved pieces, compares and contrasts life and death in a unique side-by-side depiction that shows the fragility of life contrasted against the starkness of death--whether that life is the beautiful blossom of flowers carefully corralled into a garden or the woman herself.

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