JAMES ENSOR (1860-1949)
Death pursuing a Flock of Humans
etching and drypoint, 1896, on simili Japan paper, a very good impression of Elesh's third state (of four), signed in pencil, with margins, an ink stain at upper left extending slightly into the subject, another stain in the lower margin, otherwise in good condition
Plate 240 x 182 mm., Sheet 320 x 225 mm.

Delteil, Croquez, Taevernier 104
Elesh 106

Please note this lot is the property of a private collector.
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Lot Essay

Ensor’s web-footed Death hovering over a shrieking crowd of people is a caricature of the traditional iconography of the Triumph of Death. As in the medieval tradition of the Danse macabre, he is the great leveller, who reaps all of humanity, irrespective of status, wealth, power or moral virtue. The crowd includes all of society: men and women, soldiers, monks, judges, kings and peasants.

In his depiction of this teeming mass, Ensor took inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe’s tale The Man of the Crowd, a vision of mankind blinded by mundane concerns and desires. With his characteristically savage humour, Ensor turns this into a burlesque comedy of Death: a glutton is vomiting on passers-by; behind him two women feast… Mankind, distracted by vice and excess, is oblivious to the mortal threat, but will soon be united by the inevitable fate that awaits us all. This is not a formal procession, the crowd uncontrollably rushes forward; an endless mass of humanity hurtling towards an unavoidable fate.

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