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Death

images figures deceased scenes

Images of death appear in a variety of formats in early Christian and medieval art: in narrative episodes, as didactic devices and aids to devotion, and in symbolic and personified forms.


In narrative contexts, images of the deaths of holy figures abound from the early Christian through late Gothic period. The *Crucifixion of Jesus, the *Dormition of the Virgin *Mary, as well as the last earthly moments of *saints and martyrs are frequently illustrated. Death scenes often provide pictorial clues identifying the figures represented, either through method of death, instruments of torture and *martyrdom , the presence of attendant figures, or details such as *angels bearing the *soul of the deceased to *heaven or *demons carrying the soul of the deceased to *hell. The *Resurrection of the Dead is often found in scenes of the *Last Judgment and *Apocalypse; the naked or half-clothed figures of the deceased rise from their tombs or clamber out of the earth.


The promise of salvation for the righteous and punishment for the wicked supplied a potent source of inspiration for theologians, mystics, and artists in all media through the Middle Ages. Pictorial admonishments stressing judgment were expanded, especially in later medieval art, with didactic themes emphasizing the sudden, unpredictable, and nonselective nature of death . The reminder about the inevitability of death (memento mori) was also aided by texts and illustrations describing the preparations required for a “good” death


Deathbed scenes, funeral services, and burial images are also often found in devotional contexts, for example, as illustrations accompanying prayers for the dead in Books of Hours. Focused meditation upon death Page 65  was also aided by the development of images such as the * Pietà and other depictions of the sorrows and sufferings of the Virgin Mary and Jesus .


Death [next] [back] Dean, William H.(1910–1952) - Economist, educator, Chronology, Becomes United Nations Africa Unit Chief, Directs Italian Somaliland Mission

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