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Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes: 'Death and the Maidens'

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This allegory takes up the subject of Death and the Maiden used by Schubert in a 'lied' of 1817 and well known in France at the time. This subject was often illustrated in the German Renaissance and treated as a morbid event, but here Puvis gives a rather serene and discrete interpretation of it: girls dance in the meadow, apparently unaware of the shrouded figure of death, the reaper, lying in the foreground. This is a sketch with variations for the artist's painting of the same title dated 1872, now in the Clark Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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