Effects Of The Black Plague On Art

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The Black Plague’s Influence on the Fine Arts.
The Black Plague was a catastrophe that shook humanity to its core. This disease was one of the most impactful epidemics in human history wiping out approximately one third of Europe’s population between 1347-1350 (Johnston 566). The Black Plague, or known by as its medical name, the Bubonic Plague, was a deadly disease tied to poor sanitation, and was extremely contagious. As explained in The Gale Encyclopedia of Science, “Humans became infected only through the bite of a flea that has ingested blood from an infected rodent. Another route of transmission is through person-to-person contact. If a person’s lungs are infected with the bacteria, the disease can be transmitted easily to another person
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Since death and the plague became the main focus of everyday life, it also became a common subject for artists. Realism became a very popular form of art. Many artists captured the feeling of hopelessness, despair, and the fear the plague brought to Europe in their paintings. There are numerous works where artists have replicated dying victims of the plague (Johnston 568). In All Things Medieval: An Encyclopedia of the Medieval World: Volume II, Ruth A. Johnston talks about the depiction of the death in artwork during the Black Plague. “After the plague, people’s image of death changed. Death was often pictured in art, and the character of Death was always gruesome and corpse-like. Sometimes Death drew people into a dance, but other times, as in this picture painted 25 years later (see fig. 1), Death relentlessly chose unwilling victims to murder” (568). Some artists also depicted death in the typical “reaper” fashion, such as a tall, dark hooded figure with a skeleton-like face, that is commonly known today (568). There were a small number of artists who tried to include satire in their paintings, such as Three Living and Three Dead (see fig. 2). In this picture the three living men are visited by three frightening images of death. Another popular painting during the time of the plague Dance of the Dead (see fig. 3). In this painting, death is a gleeful skeleton who is dancing with everyone. The participants appear to be from …show more content…
There are many stories and literary works that are connected to the Black Plague. One famous example of these works is The Pied Piper. The Pied Piper is a short story by the Grimm brothers about a group of children leaving their village and coming across The Piper, an adult man who plays the flute. The Piper then tricks the children with his music and leads them to their death. There are many reasons why The Pied Piper is connected to the Black Death. One of these reasons is that it is theorized that the reason the child left their village in the first place is to escape the plague outbreak. Another reason is the Piper’s clothing is often connected to plague symptoms, the descriptions of red and yellow such as the red swells and yellow skin. A third reason is that since the children are unknowingly being lead to death by the Piper, the Piper is often compared to death and the plague itself (Weekly Read Incorporation 4-5). Another example of the Black Plague in literature can be seen in Boccaccio’s collection of short stories. These stories are in a work known as Decameron. These stories are very similar to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Decameron was created as a result of the trauma caused by the Black Plague. The stories are about a group of friends who leave Florence to find a new, stress-free home. Back in Florence, people are dying rapidly because of the plague (Giovanni Boccaccio, Effects

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