The Court of Death The Court of Death, an oil on canvas painting done in the 1820s by a middle aged Rembrandt Peale, is a piece of artwork that I can look at and understand. An allegorical painting showing several of the artists views on life and death. Understanding and appreciating artwork is certainly not one of my strong points as a student, but when I approached this painting at the DIA I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off of it. From the way that the colors draw your eyes to the light, to the clear texture allowing you to see each stroke and how much work was actually put into the painting. The court of death is an example of Peale’s early style. Rembrandt Peale born 1778 in Pennsylvania was born into a life of art. His father being a notable artist taught all his children to paint scenery and portrait at an early age. Rembrandt Peale was named after the Dutch painter and engraver Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Peale was the third of six children to survive in the family. Rembrandt married at the young age of 20 and went on to have nine children with his wife Eleanor May Short. Peale lived a long 82 years before he passed in 1860. Leaving behind a large legacy of artwork Peale will always be respected in the art community. Front and center of the painting Peale placed what he portrayed to be Death. Death is the head of the triangle in this picture as all the lines from the characters on either side of him alight to him. Even though he is placed in the shadows of the people to his left and right he is the main focus of the painting. To the right of death is what is seen as the horrors of war, everyone on this side fight for what they believe is right regardless of the fighting’s effect. To the extreme right, a warrior with a shield and sword drawn, the warrior is standing over a woman and child and in my eyes represents someone who is willing to protect those who cannot protect themselves, but also can portray the loss of one’s father and how he left behind a woman and child whom now must fend for themselves. Next to the warrior stands an elderly man grieving over the loss of a younger man whom is lying on the floor in front of death. The elder man symbolizes a man who has lived his life and is now ready to face death. But death takes the younger man instead, and the elder man simply wishes he could have taken his place.
To the left of death is what is seen as the self-destructive people, those whom have sinned and are lead to death through sin. To the left of death stand two women who symbolize pleasure in the form of sex and drink. To the left of the women standing beside death lays a man with a knife to his chest. This man represents suicide; he has chosen to take the coward’s way out facing death before his time. He may have chosen to take his life because he fell under the power of pleasure