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Triumph of Death

The Triumph of Death was a fairly common theme for late medieval artists. Like the another theme, Memento Mori, it was intended to remind viewers of mortality and death. Triumph of Death often depicts an army of skeletons massacring people of every age and gender. Sometimes, a wild carnivalesque atmosphere was emphasized in the popular motif of the Danse Macabre, or Dance of Death.
Understanding the macabre spirit of death-culture in late medieval Europe requires an understanding of the terror and panic of epidemic disease, and, more generally, a fear of catastrophe and sudden death. The population of the medieval world experienced death first-hand: wide-scale death, physical decay, and the subsequent crumbling of societal infrastructure.
The Black Death was the period in Europe from approximately 1347 to 1353, when bubonic plague ravaged and initiated a long-term period of cultural trauma. In fourteenth-century Europe, the mortality rate from plague was between 50% and 90% of those people who contracted the disease.
The most recent works increase estimates of the total population loss to 65% in both Asia and Europe. Previous estimates state that about one-third of the population died from the disease in the years spanning the Black Death.
Woman with death head from BL YT 7, f. 174
61 Media in collectionpage 1 of 1

Death from BL Harley 2936, f. 84

Detail of a miniature of Death, at the beginning of Matins in the Office of the Dead. Image taken from f. 84 of Book of Hours, Use of Rome. Written in Latin.

Triumph of Death from BL Harley 5761, f. 29

Detail of a marginal vignette of the Triumph of Death. Image taken from f. 29 of Trionfi (index Triumphs) (ff. 11-52v); Rime (ff. 55-195). Written in Italian.

Death from BL Harley 2936, f. 84

Miniature of Death, decorated initial 'V'(erba) and foliate borders, at the beginning of Matins in the Office of the Dead. Image taken from f. 84 of Book of Hours, Use of Rome. Written in Latin.

Memento Mori from BL Add 39636, ff. 5-8, 11-12, 30-32, f. 6

Historiated initial 'D' of a Memento Mori, measuring 125 x 110. On the reverse, partial four-line stave, musical notation and text: '..antur'. Image taken from f. 6 of Cuttings from a Gradual. Written in Latin.

Triumph of Death from BL Harley 5761, f. 29

Full border with flowers, birds, deer, skulls, coral beads, a marginal vignette of the Triumph of Death, and an historiated initial 'Q'(uesta). Image taken from f. 29 of Trionfi (index Triumphs) (ff. 11-52v); R... more

Triumph of Death from BL Harley 3567, f. 166

Miniature of the Triumph of Death, with a decorated initial 'Q'(uesta). Image taken from f. 166 of Rime and Trionfi (index Triumphs). Written in Italian.

Woman with death head from BL YT 7, f. 174

Detail of an historiated initial 'D'(ilexi) with a woman (Duchess Dionora?) with a skull for a face admiring herself in a hand mirror, and a partial scatter border with gems and flowers, at the beginning of the... more

Woman with death head from BL YT 7, f. 174

Historiated initial 'D'(ilexi) of a woman (Duchess Dionora?) with a skull for a face admiring herself in a hand mirror, and a partial scatter border with gems, flowers, and vases, at the beginning of the Office... more

Memento Mori from BL Eg 1070, f. 53

Detail of a full-page miniature of a Memento Mori. Image taken from f. 53 of Book of Hours, Use of Paris ('The Hours of René d'Anjou'). Written in Latin, calendar and rubrics in French.

Memento Mori from BL Eg 1070, f. 53

Full-page miniature of a Memento Mori, with the banner 'Memento homo quod sinis es et in sinere reverteris' [Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you will return). Image taken from f. 53 of Book of Hour... more

Death on horseback from BL YT 6, f. 137

Miniature of Death riding a skeletal horse, incorporating a decorated initial 'V'(enite), and partial border, at the beginning of Matins in the Hours of Dead. Image taken from f. 137 of Book of Hours, Use of Ro... more

Death on horseback from BL YT 6, f. 137

Detail of a miniature of Death riding a skeletal horse, at the beginning of Matins in the Hours of Dead. Image taken from f. 137 of Book of Hours, Use of Rome. Written in Latin.

Triumph of Death from BL Harley 2953, f. 20

Full-page miniature of the Triumph of Death (probably added). Image taken from f. 20 of .

The dance of death / Gordon Ross.

Illustration shows, in a banner across the top, men and women dancing at a dance club or nightclub; the banner breaks at the center and the women fall into prostitution, separating the bottom of the cartoon int... more

[What death takes from those who fall enters into those who are left standing]

Drawing shows only the right half of a two page spread with Death on horseback and as a skeleton carrying a scythe (the blade of which appears in the missing left half) racing to the right over bodies and the w... more

Death dances with a painter

Publication: .Bethesda, MD : U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Health & Human Services, [2010] ..Language(s): .German. .Format: .Still image ..Subject(s): .Death.Engraving ... more

A Skeleton by Alexander Mair 1605

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

A skeleton leaning on a spade by an open grave 1620s

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

An Essay on Woman (pub. Darly) late 18th c.

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Bâstard Foetus Hérédité

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Death, riding Pegasus, Jacques Gamelin, 1779 (NLM)

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Imago Mortis --- devil's dance in the Nuremberg Chronicle

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Imago Mortis --- devil's dance in the Nuremburg Chronicle (obras raras .br)

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Robe a la fluxion de poitrine, des ateliers de Mademoiselle Vanite (C Philipon - Nouveau Journal de Modes)

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Robe a la fluxion de poitrine, des ateliers de Mademoiselle Vanite (C Philipon - Nouveau Journal de Modes) (detail)

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Theatrum Mortis Humanae Tripartitum - Johann Weikhard von Valvasor, 1682

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Totentanz a

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Totentanz b

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Totentanz

Collection of spooky and death images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Adam and Eve by Hans Sebald Beham and Barthel Beham 1543

Collection of strange images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Eden - Death's Dance (BSB .. 1548)

Collection of strange images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Félicien Rops frontispiece in Baudelaire's 'Les Épaves' 1866

Collection of strange images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

Frauenzimmer Gesprechspiele 1646 d

Collection of strange images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

plague death hilt scabbard engraving NLS

Collection of strange images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.