Death as a Friend, 1851

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Alfred Rethel's Death as a Strangler is said to have so severely haunted his contemporaries and disturbed their dreams, that he created this more comforting image of Death. The old bell ringer had tolled many a passing, but now Death works the ropes to mark a new day. Death came a long way to do his job, for he wears the cockle shell of a pilgrim. The old man seems to go in peace, for he has lived a pious life: Christ watches over him from the Cross; his bible is open; the jug and bread suggest that he has kept Communion; and, from his belt hangs a ring of keys, symbol of orderliness. Indeed, from his tower dwelling, it seems a short step to heaven.

Death as a Friend
Artist Life
1816 - 1859
Accession Number
[Emil Hirsch, Munich and New York, until d. 1954]; [By descent, his son-in-law, Hellmuth Wallach, New York, 1954-1957; sold June 14, with "Death as Strangler" (P.12,578), for $95, to Mia]
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