'The Dead Lovers'

'The Dead Lovers'
The Cleveland Museum of Art

So much for love beyond the grave. So much for Adam and Eve. The late Renaissance German painters were not sentimentalists; they were moralists. This extraordinary oil painting is Les amants trépassés (also known as The Deceased Lovers, The Dead Lovers, and even The Rotting Pair), associated with an unknown painter, possibly "the Master of the Upper Rhine," and it is one of a pair from around 1470: before and after. The other is A Bridal Couple, shown above.

Memento mori... Remember you will die...

Musée de l'Œuvre Notre-Dame in Strasbourg.
For Adam, a mouldering skeleton
Lay bleach'd on the garden of Eden;
And Noah as white as snow
On the mountains of Ararat.
  • William Blake (The Song of Los)