The dance of Death 1914-1918 Death awed

Place Europe: Western Front
Accession Number ART50278
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 20.4 x 25.1 cm (plate); 26.2 x 34.5 cm (sheet)
Object type Print
Physical description etching
Maker Smith, Percy
Place made United Kingdom: England
Date made 1920
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


No. 3 from a portfolio of 7 etchings, titled 'The dance of Death', features Death as a tangible image hovering ominously over the battlefield. The concept of dance of Death imagery began as a medieval allegory on the universality of death and the all-conquering and equalising power of death.
In this etching 'Death awed', Death stands on a duckboard in a flooded battlefield of the Somme and contemplates two boots in the mud, which have broken bones and flesh protruding from them.
Percy Smith was a painter, calligrapher and book designer. He began to etch in 1913. He served as a gunner in the Royal Marine Artillery on the Somme during the First World War. He surreptitiously made drawings of his war experiences while at the Front and because of this was arrested twice as a spy. Etching plates were smuggled out to him between the pages of magazines.