|Artist||Gustav Richard Steinbrecher after Alfred Rethel|
|Published||Steinbrecher sc. AR. Meisterbilder, Herausgegeben vom Kunstwart, Blatt 6. Rethel, Der Tod Als Würger. [Munich, c.1905]|
|Dimensions||Image 260 x 232 mm, Sheet 355 x 270 mm|
One of a pair of memento mori wood engravings, this one cut by Steinbrecher 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 Avenger,' the cloaked and skeletal figure of Death brings Cholera upon the people of Paris. Cholera is also personified, an emaciated figure with a scourge, dressed in a long robe and an Orientalizing headdress, who sits grimly upon the stairs at the side of a Masque. A number of the guests of the ball have already fallen victim to the menacing duo, their corpses attired in costumed finery. The remaining guests, including a troupe of musicians, hasten towards the exit. Death, taking centre stage, makes a mockery of their fear, playing a gruesome 'violin' of two long bones, stepping lightly amongst the bodies. The design was said to have caused such consternation amongst Rethel's friends that he was obliged to produce a benign partner to it entitled 'Death the Friend.'
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.
Gustav Richard Steinbrecher (fl.1848-1851) was a German engraver and block-cutter.
Condition: Dirt staining and time toning to sheet. Chip and grease stain to bottom of left margin, not affecting image. Acid burn from old framing to verso.