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The Plague

Arnold Böcklin

The Plague

Arnold Böcklin
  • Date: 1898
  • Style: Symbolism
  • Genre: allegorical painting
  • Tag: allegories-and-symbols, devils-and-demons, birth-and-death
  • Order Oil Painting

Plague is an 1898 painting in tempera by the Swiss symbolist artist Arnold Böcklin, held in the Kunstmuseum Basel. It exemplifies the artist's obsession with nightmares of war, pestilence and death. The painting shows Death rides on a winged creature, who travels through the street of a medieval town.

Plague is rendered mostly using shades of pale green, a colour often associated with decomposition. The other predominant tones are black and dull browns; for example, in the clothes worn by the figures shown in the mid and background as they dive for safety before Death's path. The red cloth of the woman shown in the mid-foreground is the only vivid colour seen; she lies across the corpse of a woman who was cut down also.

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