Döden och jungfrun. En studie om betydelseförskjutningen av ett existentiellt motiv (eller en studie med kött och blod)
Sammanfattning: A specific motif depicting death is the personification of death in combination with a young woman. This constellation is usually referred to as “Death and the Maiden”. The motif’s origins lie around the 16th century but was given a special revival a few centuries later. The main aim of this study is to examine the motif of Death and the Maiden, both with regard to its historical origin and how it has evolved over time. It investigates in which context different works of art were created, and their respective meaning of the motif and the shifting of it. The theoretical framework is based on Elisabeth Bronfens writings about how and why a visual artistic representation of death can be both aesthetically pleasing and morbid. The base of this inquiry are four artworks executed in different mediums showing a variation of the same motif. Two of them were painted in the early 16th century by Hans Baldung Grien and Niklaus Manuel Deutsch. The two other ones were created around the turn of the century in 1900, a sculpture by Elna Borch and an engraving by Edvard Munch. The various works are examined individually and in relation to each other. Based on the investigation this thesis concludes that the earlier paintings are religiously motivated and are among other things deliberately condemning with a clear memento mori aspect. In later versions however, death no longer has the same annihilation and negative association as before. Influenced by thoughts of romanticism and symbolism death does not longer have to mean the end of life and everything that is good.
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