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Allegory of Death
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Allegory of Death


Joannes or Hans, II Kellerthaler (c.1560-1637)

Pen and ink (brown), watercolour (brown and grey), chalk (black and red) on paper

Height: 15 cm; Width: 18.5 cm;

Signed & dated & ink, lower centre & recto, Johan Kellerthaler goltschmit und / maler geschen (?) den 4 September 1609 in Dreiseen (?)
Ink, lower right & recto, das leben ferschwint / wie der rauch im wint

Acquisition (source, method, date)
Witt, Robert Clermont (Sir); bequest; 1952

About this work
This finished drawing, signed by the Dresden painter and goldsmith Johan Kellerthaler, is typical of Protestant allegories of the period. An inscription explains its meaning: “Life vanishes like the smoke in the wind”. Death is omnipresent, as represented by the Reaper peering from behind the tree, the hourglass, and the skull beneath the sleeping child. The only escape from eternal death is faith in Christ, shown holding the cross entwined with a snake to represent his vanquishing of earthly sin. (Permanent collection label)

Copyright: © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

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