Death and Cupid by Carl Johan Bonnesen, 1902
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bronze, 50 cm high, signed C.J.B., Christie’s, Amsterdam, sale no. 2859, 2011, lot nr. 514
Death is often rendered as a rider on horseback, but Cupid is usually not. The artist has based this work on “Doctor Faust” by the Danish author J.P. Jacobsen (1884). Death rides his horse in a slow walk, while Cupid is overtaking him in trot. The skytheman seems tired and so is his horse. In other images of Death, he is a menacing figure (see Albrecht Dürer) but here he is more like a tired farmer going home. Cupid personfies the contrary, he is an enthousiastic youth actively riding his horse. The youngster has just catched up with Death and winks to him as if he would say: ‘come back with me’. He rides without a saddle, proving his pluck and vitality. The contrasting horses reflect the very different riders.