Black Death Paintings

black death art

Artists' portrayal of the tragedies they observed has shifted dramatically over time, but the artists’ aim to depict the spirit of an epidemic has stayed consistent.

intro to black plague art

Artists developed these artworks to demonstrate how they might withstand and resist the diseases that were happening around them, restoring a feeling of agency.

what was the bubonic plague?

The Medieval Bubonic Plague is caused by Yersinia pestis, a bacterium. Bubonic plague is spread from one host to the next by fleas infected with the virus from other diseased hosts.

emergence of artworks

The entire history of Renaissance and Baroque periods in art takes place in the era of plagues. From 1347 through the late 17th century, pestilence gripped much of Europe.

famous black death paintings to know


Madonna of Humility (1345-1350) by Guariento di Arpo


Persecution of the Jews (c. 1350) by Gilles li Muisis


Tournai Citizens Burying the Dead During the Black Death (c. 1353) by Pierart dou Tielt


Saint Sebastian Interceding for the Plague Stricken (1497-1499) by Josse Lieferinxe


The Triumph of Death with the Dance of Death (c. 15th Century) by Giacomo Borlone de Buschis


Triumph of Death (c. 1562) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder


The Plague at Ashdod (1630-1631) by Nicolas Poussin


Human Fragility (1656) by Salvator Rosa


Doctor Schnabel von Rom (c. 17th Century) by Paulus Fürst


Bonaparte Visiting the Plague Victims of Jaffa (1804) by Antoine-Jean Gros