The Death Influenced Music Of The Medieval And Renaissance Era

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In this essay I will discuss how death influenced artists in the Medieval and Renaissance era. I will do this by explaining the view of death and its sacraments in society. By examining events around this period I can determine the reason behind such attitudes. I will then apply this knowledge to four works by artists from 1400-1500. I will examine how these societal perceptions influenced the narrative behind the work. I will conclude that the view of death and the dying man had a great impact on the art of these periods.

The subject of death in Medieval and Renaissance art was predominant. With the rise of the Black Death during the fourteenth century many art works centred on hell, the dying man, and anthropomorphising death. Instead
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A death which was sudden was shamed and was often interpreted as the “wrath of God”[2]. Death is depicted in its traditional form as a skeleton covered by a shroud. In his hand he carries an arrow ready to strike. Furthermore, the armoury in the foreground symbolises the fragility of the human condition in the face of death. Armour is no longer of use; you could not fight death, you had to accept it. Looking closely at the painting, we observe the inner battle between religion and possession. The miser while looking directly at Death reaches for a bag of gold which is being used by a demon to tempt him away from salvation. “Infernal imps invade the dying man’s room taking his possessions; even those hidden under the bed and in his money box”[3]. Next to him, an angel is desperately trying to make the man turn his head to the figure of Christ in the window. A ray of light from Christ symbolises the miser’s possible salvation if he turns away from the materialistic reality. The dull colour scheme is interrupted by the old man stood at the foot of the bed. His green drapes a welcome contrast to the composition breaking up the narrative. With a key and rosary beads hanging around his waist, does this depict continuous narrative? Has the angel succeeded in persuading the miser to take salvation with God? We can assume yes. “During the Medieval and Renaissance period people
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