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Alphonse Van Besten, Japonisme, autochrome, 1913.
Louis XIV as Apollo
Pen, wash and gouache, 167 x 260 mm
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
The thing is death is a consequence/result of war, famine and conquest, which are related qualities in themselves; thus death is an appropriate allegory to conclude these three abstract quail ties. Many paintings of war scenes include the figure of death (representing an abstract quality) looming in the artwork, while depicting the atrocities of war (a tangible quality). The conquest in itself cannot be achieved without death and thus it seems it is included in the figure of death. Similarly, death is present in the depiction of famine or poverty, which are often a result of war. Furthermore, diseases, such as plague or cholera are often represented with the figure of death usually with the accessories and qualities of the figure of death seen in war or famine scene. So rather than represent war, famine and conquest with individual characteristics and allegories, they are under the umbrella figure of death. With the four horseman of the apocalypse however, it is a specific case where we have specific descriptions thus, we have four allegories. Outside the four horsemen scenario, it seems the general figure of death plays the role for war/conquest, famine and disease.
Moreover, as modern art began in the 19th century, allegories diminished and events such as war and famine were depicting using contemporary people highlighting social realism.
Theodor von Holst, The Fairy Lovers, 1840
CR Fashion Book #4, Flowers for Ferdinando
Daphne Groeneveld by Tom Ford
Black Panther Party Liberation School in Oakland, California, 1968.
Photo courtesy of Victor Houston
Kate Moss for John Galliano S/S 1995
The Museum at FIT