Three Ages Of Woman And Death

The German Renaissance artist Hans Baldung (better known as Hans Baldung Grien) was thought to be a contemporary of the previously mentioned woodcut artist Hans Freckenberg (indeed, it is presumed that Baldung acquired his “Grien” nickname at Albrect Dürer’s workshop in Nuremberg due to the preponderance of Hanses at one point).

Baldung died in 1545 (the cause of death is not recorded), a mere two years after Freckenberg. One of Baldung’s better known paintings is the Three Ages of Woman and Death, painted in 1510 and currently in the possession of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Famous for its strange portrayal of a skeletal figure holding an hourglass (similar to the recurring theme in Freckenberg’s series of woodcuts), as an insurance requirement the painting was subjected to an X-Ray analysis following the theft of the Cellini Salt Cellar from the museum in 2003.

Unexpectedly, the painting seems to have been altered at an early stage, and the X-Ray appears to show the skeletal “death” figure possessing a number of extraneous upper limbs. Again, this is reminiscent of the figure portrayed as “Der Ritter” in Freckenberg’s woodcuts of the period.


Graphic showing the original painting (left) and X-ray (right) with what appear to be extra upper limbs on the figure of Death

For more information on Baldung, see:

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