Death Theory - Albert Hilt

Death is a beautiful curtain being dropped at the very end of the show that none of us ever wants to end. It is a performance without rehearsal, a non-scripted play. Here are some of the most intriguing works of art displaying death personifications and holy figures throughout mythological history.

Eros Killing Thanatos, Francis Newton Souza, 1984/1985, From the collection of: National Gallery of Modern Art
This piece shows Eros (Greek goddess of love and life) killing Thanatos (Greek god of death). This painting was made to show that love could conquer death during the events of World War II in Asia. The flat design and coloring gives the image great detail into what’s happening. Though he is portrayed as a demonic figure in this painting, Thanatos is mostly known for his gentle method of reaping life from those who time it is to crossover.
Izanami and Izanagi, Artist: Ogata Gekko, 1891, From the collection of: National Museum of Asian Art
Dressed in white standing at her husband/brothers side is Izanami god of the underworld. After birth to the fire god her insides were burnt and she died and became ruler of the underworld. The texture and detail of this painting is simply amazing. The blank space around them shows a void to be filled. With them being the creators of this world, it truly leaves us in wonder of what is next be created.
Page from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer, -1285/-1285, From the collection of: British Museum
This is a page from the Book Of The Dead showing the Egyptian god of the underworld Anubis. The painting gives a great look into the old method of mummification in ancient Egypt. With the body of a human and head of a jackal, Anubis rules over all operations of the dead. The color and style of the painting gives us a look into the Egyptian way of storytelling.
Heimdall returns Brisingamen to Freyja, Nils Jakob Blommér, 1846, From the collection of: Malmö Konstmuseum
The woman in the painting is the Norse God of death and battle, Freyja. The image tells the story of Heimdall returning Freyja beloved necklace called Brisingamen. The artwork of this piece is amazing, much different from most other Norse artwork. He truly brought the Ancient Norse mythology to the 18th century. With the use of light and shadow areas being displayed this piece is really brought to life.
The Abduction of Proserpine, Alessandro Allori, 1570, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
In this painting we see Pluto, Roman god of the underworld abducting Proserpine, daughter of Ceres (goddess of earth and grain). They later were married and she became queen of the underworld. The paintings detail and background images truly shine. This gives the image an abundance of life and feel.
Sculpture representing Ah-Puch, the god of death, Unknown, 800-1000, From the collection of: Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac
This is a statue of Ah-Puch Mayan Ruler of the underworld. The creator of this stone figure is still unknown today. The carvings done are well done and detailed correctly to look like a human skeleton. In Mayan history It is said that loud cries and moans could scare this god away.
Motif from The Story of a Mother by Hans Christian Andersen, Niels Hansen Jacobsen, 1892, From the collection of: SMK - Statens Museum for Kunst
Here we have the most known figure of death in Western history, the Grim Reaper. This is based off of The Story Of A Mother by Hans Christian Andersen. Under the women’s cloak is her dead child and death is coming to collect his soul. The detail and movement captured in this piece is amazing.
Dance of Shiva and Kali, Unknown, Indian, 1778/1882, From the collection of: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
This painting shows Kali (Hindu god of death) and her husband Shiva. She is portrayed as a dark black four armed woman. The images curvy lines and patterns draw in your attention. The contrasting colors are able to reveal elements of the story without say. The artist is still unknown today.
Sandstone seated figure of Mictlantecuhtli, 1325/1521, From the collection of: British Museum
This statue is a representation of Mictlantecuhtli, he is known as the lord of the last level of the underworld in Aztec Mythology. The spider, owl and dog represent him. The stone figure may lack detail, but makes up for it in positioning. The knee to elbow position is captured well and lets you know how awkward this god’s behavior could have been.​
The Buddha Addressing Yamaraja at Kusinagara, Artist: Anonymous (Chinese), 12th-13th century, From the collection of: National Museum of Asian Art
The Buddha Addressing Yamaraja at Kusinagara painting shows Yama confronting a Buddha figure. In Hinduism Yama is the god of death. It is said that he gave men the power to choose their own paths of life. The painting though it is not well restored physically, they show amazing details in the faces and armor of the figures being seen.
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