Yet once more on the organ play. Artist: Frederick Sandys. Engraver: J. Swain, 1861. Wood-engraving, 3¾ x 5 inches. Once a Week(23 March 1861): p.350. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

An illustration for a poem by Julia Goddard, ‘From the German of Uhland’. This image depicts the listener’s moment of passing (in agony – or in ecstacy?): the neighbour plays ‘once more’ and death (ironically) provides the air (or breath) for the organ. This image exemplifies Sandys’s art at its most unsettling, notably in the way in which it contrasts the three poses of the main figures – one dying, one alive, one an emblematic figure of death. It calculatedly recalls the example of German wood-engraving of the period, while also invoking Renaissance allegories about the shortness and futility of earthly pleasures.

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Last modified 18 July 2013