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The Three Dead and the Three Living and The Triumph of Death, by Buonamico Buffalmacco, 1338-39

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The Three Dead and the Three Living and The Triumph of Death, by Buonamico Buffalmacco, 1338-39.

This fresco cycle at the Camposanto in Pisa, featuring the The Three Dead and the Three Living, the Triumph of Death, the Last Judgement, Hell, and the Thebais, is thought to be attributable to Buonamico Buffalmacco, a painter of whose works few have remained. It was painted roughly a decade before the Black Death spread over Europe in 1348. The group of youths enjoying themselves in the delightful garden in the foreground on the right while angels of Death collect corpses over their heads is likely to have inspired the setting of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron, which was written a few years after the Black Death. Buffalmacco, the painter of the cycle, also appears as a merry prankster and practical joker in three of Boccaccio's most entertaining stories.

Notorious for embedding bits of text in his paintings, a practice that Vasari dismissed as being clumsy and amateurish, the scroll suspended by angels over the crippled beggars in the center reads: "Since prosperity has completely deserted us, O Death, you who are the medicine for all pain, come to give us our last supper."

Source/Citation: 

Buonamico Buffalmacco: The Triumph of Death|The Yorck Project via WikiMedia Commons

Type: 
Contemporaneous Resource
Access Level: 
Licensed for Public Use