Death and the Landsknecht (1510) by Albrecht Durer

Death and the Landsknecht - Albrecht Durer - 1510

Artwork Information

TitleDeath and the Landsknecht
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationBritish Museum, London, UK

About Death and the Landsknecht

“Death and the Landsknecht” is an allegorical artwork by Albrecht Dürer, dating back to 1510, during the Northern Renaissance. The piece is part of the collection at the British Museum in London, UK. It is an example of Dürer’s skill in engraving, and its genre is allegorical painting, albeit presented as an engraving.

The artwork depicts two figures: one is a skeleton, which represents death, and the other is a Landsknecht, a type of German mercenary soldier recognizable by his flamboyant clothing. The skeleton, who is portrayed as animated and personified, stands to the left and confronts the Landsknecht, holding an hourglass, symbolizing the inevitable passing of time and the imminence of death. The soldier appears surprised by the encounter, as he gazes at the hourglass with a concerned expression. The contrast between the skeleton (death) and the soldier (life and vitality), as well as the presence of the hourglass, emphasizes the theme of mortality, a common subject in the art and literature of the period. This piece would have served as a memento mori, reminding viewers of the transient nature of life and the certainty of death.

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