This work was engraved by Alfred Rethel in 1851. Not only the plague provided an opportunity for the creation of new representation of Death. At the 19th century, another illness infected Europe in waves: the cholera. Rethel drew Death as a cutthroat, and engraved it later, since woodcut was a very popular genre at this time. He was inspired by by an account that the celebrated poet Heinrich Heine had made of the sudden outbreak of cholera in the year 1832, at a masquerade during the carnival of Paris. Here, Death plays a kind of violin, while the musicians flee. Close to them,stands a emaciated female silhouette, wrapped in a shroud: symbol of the disease. In the foreground, some people have already died of the cholera.
[source: La mort dans l’art]