Sample Paper on Theme of death as highlighted by the artists


This study compares and contrasts the theme of death as highlighted by artists from different periods of time. Death has been among the most expressed theme throughout the history of art. From the middle ages, the ‘Memento Mori’ was a very influential content. It reminded people about mortality and the balancing authority of death. Death is not a respecter of persons and position. It awaits each and every one of us. In this study, three examples of art have been used to express how ‘Memento Mori’ in the western art reminded people of death. These examples are from different times in history: from the rise of Christianity to the formation of Europe. The study divulges the function of ‘Memento Mori’. The study further compares and contrasts how artists use this device to communicate a given idea. It reveals how ‘Memento Mori’ conveys ideas on time, place, and culture of the artist that created it.

The ‘Memento Mori’

The term ‘Memento Mori’ is a Latin word. It is an ancient reflection practice and Latin theory on death. It was used to signify the shortness of this earthly life. Moreover ‘Memento Mori’  was used to remind people of the brevity of all goods on this earth. This concept is connected to the ‘ars moriendi’ . Through this artwork, peoples’ characters have been shaped. This has been achievable by the exercising discipline in the detachment of earthly things. This artwork has enabled people to be more connected to thoughts related to afterlife and the life of soul.

This image depicts the Christian culture during the seventeenth century in Rome. This is the period of the rise of Christianity. The Memento Mori’ had disciplined people into believing in life after death. Memento Mori’ was a symbol of brevity of life. It is also related to the era of ‘Black death’. This was a period when human mortality was accepted in artwork. This image reflects belief of Christians in fearless martyrdom and resurrection. This image is also a representation of the eighteenth century neoclassicism. In other cultures, it was represented by different things. In Islam, it was represented by the graveyards.

This artwork depicts the period of formation of Europe. The Romans believed that by doing the good acts and belief in God, and then one was entitled to heaven. This would be after death where each one would face judgment. In the western Christian context, the ‘Memento Mori’ was used to emphasize the existence of heaven and hell. This context rather developed together with Christianity in Europe. Hence most of this works are associated with Christianity.


This is a modern artwork. This artwork depicts the belief in shortness of life. The modern day artists incorporated different clocks to emphasize the brevity of life. It is a representation of collective ideas to making art. Artists have developed the visual language to represent their ideas and the present period. The paintings show the subjective perception of the artists. This has been achieved by ensuring that the practice of originality has been put in place. The theme of death has been developed by artists such as Gustave Courbet. His portrait of ‘Burial at Ornans’ reflects the classical scenes and the theme. His work, just as modern art, was initially rejected but later approved. New ideas have been initially rejected but later accepted as they are a continuation of the prevailing culture and practices.


Modern art, contrary to the classic art, is more complicated. This is because artists desire to prove to the rest that they are better than the other people. Modern art, similar to the classic art depict the world as it in the eyes of the artists. In the classic art, people were more concerned with each other. In the modern art, people are more concerned with improving their lives. Such themes as death are causally perceived. This is reflected at how inviting artwork is that speak over the subject.