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Paper Vault: Dancing with Death

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Death and Three Nude Women

circa 1546-circa 1550
16th century
7.9 x 5.7 cm (3 1/8 x 2 1/4 in.)

Sebald Beham (Nuremberg, Germany, 1500 - 1550, Frankfurt am Main, Germany) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, German
Medium and Support: Engraving
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1981
Accession Number: 1981.43

This is a reworking of a print originally created by the artist’s brother, Barthel Beham. The print shows the skeletal figure of Death gazing toward a young, voluptuous woman to his left. A larger, middle-aged woman, standing with her foot on a skull, and her arm around an elderly woman to her left, dominates much of the image. The theme of Death and three nude women of various ages was popular in Northern Europe for its moralizing reminder of fleeting beauty, the shortness of life, and the foolishness of vanity. The image by Hans Sebald and Barthel Beham is memorable for the inclusion of erotic details into this tradition.

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