Related to earlier Medieval motifs, such as Danse Macabre or the dance of death, the Death and the Maiden theme has an added erotic element. It seems the sentiment "all life ends" shifts to "all beauty must die". Rather than showing an old person passing away, these images classically depict a young woman in her prime, usually naked, being seduced by a death figure.
The origin of this theme is usually attributed to German artist Hans Sebald Beham.
|"All human beauty is ended by death"|
Hans Sebald Beham, 1547
|"Mortal achievements will be destroyed"|
Hans Sebald Beham
|"Death and the Maiden" (1915) Egon Schiele|
|"Death and the Maiden" (1894) Edvard Munch|
|"On Giving Life" 1975, Ana Mendieta|
|"Nude with Skeleton" 2002, Marina Abromovic|