Campania : Triumph of Death (Palermo)

Triumph of Death (Palermo)

Triumph of Death (Palermo),Artist unknown, 1446, Sclafani Plazza, Palermo

The Triumph of Death is a grand fresco that was thought to have been commissioned by the King of Naples for the Sclafani Plazza in 1446. It has since been moved to the Regional Gallery of Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo due to damage after the Second World War. There is little information on whom was the artist and patron. The Triumph of Death in Palermo was painted in the late gothic style, a century proceeding the Black Death. It became a popular artistic theme across Europe during the 14th and 15th century and was a successful tool in terrifying people about the plague. The Triumph of Death was commonly recognized in that no description or text were necessary. Unlike previous medieval paintings, the “Triumph” paintings did not inspire faith, however, the graphic images were instead used with intent to redirect panic from the plague and subtly scare people into paying attention to religion. The paintings were commissioned for hospitals and cemeteries and served as a warning that the alive were being judged by the dead; people should be careful not to sin for they would suffer as a result of the plague. The belief of the cause of the plague impacted what artists depicted in their paintings and gradually affected future iconography.