|Artist||Richard Julius Jungtow after Alfred Rethel|
|Published||J. Jungtow sc. AR. Meisterbilder, Herausgegeben vom Kunstwart, Blatt 5. Rethel, Der Tod Als Freund. [Munich, c.1905]|
|Dimensions||Image 260 x 235 mm, Sheet 360 x 265 mm|
One of a pair of memento mori wood engravings, this one cut by Jungtow in 1851, after designs by Alfred Rethel, here printed in a smaller format for a supplement to the early twentieth century German art and culture journal, Der Kunstwart. The series, issued periodically from 1901 onwards, celebrated works by famous master printers of all genres and time periods, but with a particular focus on German artistic achievement. In the scene, entitled 'Death the Friend,' Rethel has placed the cloaked and skeletal figure of Death in a positive role, as a help to humanity and a balm to the pain and weariness of life. The setting is the spartan garret of an elderly bell ringer. The man himself, weary from a long life of toil, sits in a chair against the wall. He is surrounded by his few belongings: a Bible open on the table, a loaf of bread on a plate, a broad-brimmed hat with the pilgrim's shell of St James, a staff, a horn, and a large crucifix. As the man nears his final moments, Death takes up the ropes that have long been his duty, ringing the bells that signal both the new dawn and the end of the man's life.
Alfred Rethel (1816- 859) was a German engraver, and history painter, active in Aachen, Frankfurt, and Dusseldorf. His artistic output was affected by regular bouts of mania and mental derangement, but also gave his paintings a particularly haunting quality that was commented on both negatively and positively by his contemporaries. In addition to his religious and history paintings, Rethel also designed memento mori and dance of death scenes in a style heavily influenced by Durer.
Richard Julius Jungtow (1828-?) was a German engraver and block-cutter.
Condition: Dirt staining and time toning to sheet. Large grease stain to top right margin, not affecting image. Large crease to top left margin, not affecting image. Acid burn from old framing to verso.