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Lovers Surprised by Death

A work made of chiaroscuro woodcut in 3 shades of brown on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of chiaroscuro woodcut in 3 shades of brown on ivory laid paper.




Hans Burgkmair the Elder
German, 1473-1531

About this artwork

Themes derived from the Dance of Death, a medieval allegory in which Death overcomes people of all ages and levels of society, pervaded German art in the late medieval and Renaissance periods. As the first true chiaroscuro woodcut, Hans Burgkmair’s compelling depiction of lovers torn apart by death is a work of pivotal importance. It represents a major cognitive leap on the part of the artist, who was the first to compose an organic three-dimensional composition by juxtaposing and overprinting three tones added by three different wood blocks.


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Prints and Drawings


Hans Burgkmair, the elder


Lovers Surprised by Death


Germany (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1510


Chiaroscuro woodcut in 3 shades of brown on ivory laid paper


21.7 × 15.7 cm (8 9/16 × 6 3/16 in.)

Credit Line

Amanda S. Johnson and Marion J. Livingston Endowment

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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