barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


Stefano della Bella (1610-1664)

Les cinqs morts – Death on horseback

Italy, 1648

Etching with engraving

191 x 151 mm

 

Here, the horse charges out of the picture frame, representing the inevitable coming of death. Breaking away from traditional equestrian portraits of rulers and generals, the horse and rider are not a unified partnership. Instead, their struggle is portrayed by the fear in the horse’s eye, the tension of its body and the scream of Death urging it to move forward. Bella’s use of delicate parallel lines for the horse’s mane and tail, Death’s clothing and flag adds to the sense of drama and movement.

Purchased 1954 (No.55.5/1)

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