Ein Brief [A Letter]

Method Copper engraving
Artist [Anonymous]
Published [n.d. Germany c. 1830-40]
Dimensions Sheet 205 x 185 mm
Notes An incredibly rare Memento Mori folding letter comprised of one sheet printed on both sides with multiple images and text.

On the outside text in German reads: A letter to me and you is to be delivered cito. The postage is low, accept it eagerly. The content is aimed at you, me and everyone. The place where it should be is and is called: "O heart, take note."

The successive unfolding results in a series of Carpe Diem and Memento Mori images and text. On the first unfolding Adam sits under a deciduous tree with animals at his feet and text in German which translates to "O sight full of loveliness / How you flaunt the garment of honour. You mortals think back, how great was my happiness not in Paradise! Everything that happened shortly afterwards, you can do that "I'll see you soon with pain."

On the second unfolding Adam and Eve appear with the snake in front of the tree of knowledge, from which the Crucifix grows at the top with text in German above and below that reads, "O sight full of horror! how you discover the great fall of sin, which now kills us all."

When it is opened for a third time the viewer sees a beautifully dressed young couple on a lawn with text in German above their heads which reads, "Man is made of the earth, what use is great splendour? Clothes are just blankets for sins. Just pick them up, you will be shocked!".

When the lower half of the sheet is opened downwards, both figures stand on skeleton legs, the woman holds a shovel, the man holds a scythe, between them a plinth or grave stone with Memento Mori on it on top of which is a skull with a snake and an hourglass in a niche below and, on the right, a candle, with German text saying "O man! reflect yourself here, consider what you are. Nothing but the excrement of worms, a shadow that does not remain, a dust that is momentarily scattered by a gentle wind, a light that will soon go out. Therefore live as a Christian and learn, "Because you live on earth, you can be eternally happy." Below is a corpse being eaten by worms on the stone bier bearing the the words 1 Book Moses 3 Vers. 19 and text in German which translates, "I didn't know how to carry myself in splendour, now the splendour is gone. Since snakes gnaw me and I am the prey of decay. Come mortal, look at me, what you are now "That was me too".

Condition: Good. Overall time toning some staining and surface dirt, creases as issued. Two small areas of loss on fold very minor. Otherwise very good.
Framing unmounted
Price £1,000.00
Stock ID 52267