Soprafino Death Card
When I saw this print on the Hyperallergic art blog, I immediately thought it must have been the inspiration for the Soprafino Death card (see below). The artist’s palette caught my eye first. Then I noticed so many other items the two images have in common: gold chains, a medallion, bishop’s hat, armor, a spear point and crown. I think I see the spine of a book near the far right edge of the print. The book isn’t nearly as prominent as on the card, but the stone tablet on the print sits in nearly the same location and tilted at the same angle as the Soprafino book.
The print was recently up for auction at Christie’s as part of a private collection that encompassed 500 years of momento mori and vanitas images. The inscription on the stone tablet, Omnia mihi subdita “everything succumbs to me”, is a good summation of what this type of art is about.
The image was created by Johann Elias Ridinger and engraved by Johann Jacob Ridinger about 1760. According to Wikipedia, Johann Elias (1698 – 1767) was an artist, engraver and publisher, famous for his renderings of animals. In fact he’s so famous, you can trot over to your nearest Walmart and purchase a copy of his Adam Names the Animals.
The Soprafino is my favorite version of Death, since its message strongly resonates with me. I’m in dire need of a domestic Grim Reaper to drastically prune back my accumulation of art supplies, books, and assorted clutter. The juxtaposition of the engraving and the card reminds me of how dominant the German print industry was, and that Carlo Dellarocca was commissioned by a German printer working in Italy to engrave one of the most gorgeous decks ever created.