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Monday 3 October 2022

Gustav Richard Steinbrecher’s wood engraving, “Death Throwing his Sword to the People, Provoking an Uprising”, 1848, after Alfred Rethel

Gustav Richard Steinbrecher (1828–fl. 1848)

“Death Throwing his Sword to the People, Provoking an Uprising” (aka “Viertes Blatt”; “Fourth Sheet: Death as Hero of the Revolution Passing his Sword to the People”), 1848, the fourth plate from the series of six wood engravings, “Auch ein Todtentanz” (aka “This, too, is a Dance of Death”), showing scenes depicting the dance of death in the context of the German Revolutions of 1848-49, after drawings by Alfred Rethel (1816–1859) and following the intermediary design by Hugo Leopold Friedrich Heinrich Bürkner (aka Hugo Leopold Friedrich Heinrich Bürckner) (1818–1897), with verses by Robert Reinick (1805–1852), published in Leipzig by Georg Wigand (1818–1858).

Wood engraving printed in black with a buff tonal plate on wove paper, backed with a support sheet.

Size: (support sheet) 45.4 x 53.8 cm; (sheet) 29.7.8 x 39.3 cm; (image borderline) 22.5 x 32.2 cm.

Lettered above the image borderline: “Viertes Blatt.”

Lettered within the image borderline: (on sword) “VOLKS IUSTIZ” (People’s Justice); (lower centre on wooden platform edge) “St”.

Lettered below the image borderline in nine columns of German text “,Freiheit, Gleichheit und Brudersinn!‘/ Der Schrei wälzt durch die Stadt sich hin./ ,Zum Rathhaus!‘ – Horch! der Steinwurf saust.// ,Hoch Republik!" – die Flamme braust. –/ ,Zum Markt! zum Markt! Da steht er schon/ ,Der Held der Revolution!/ ,Hört Ihn!‘ – – Stumm Alles wie ein Grab.// Er aber reicht ein Schwerdt herab ./ Und hält es allem Volk bereit –/ Die List nahm's der Gerechtigkeit –/ Er schreit: ,Du Volk! dies Schwerdt ist dein!// ,Wer sonst kann richten? du allein!/ ,Durch dich spricht Gott! durch dich allein!‘/ ,,Blut! Blut!‘‘ viel tausend Kehlen schrei'n.”

([Google translate] “'Freedom, equality and brotherly spirit!'/ The scream rolls through the city./ 'To the town hall!' - Hark! the stone is thrown. // 'Hail republic!' – the flame roars. –/ 'To the market! to the market! There he is already/ ,The hero of the revolution!/ 'Hear him!' – – Silent everything like a grave. // But he hands down a sword./ And keeps it ready for all the people –/ Justice took it by cunning –/ He cries out: 'You people! This sword is yours!// ,Who else can judge? You alone!/ ,God speaks through you! Through you alone!'/ "Blood! Blood!'' many thousand throats scream.")

Welcome Collection offers a description of this print:

See also the description of the folio of engravings offered by the British Museum.

Condition: a strong and well-printed impression laid upon an archival support sheet of millennium quality washi paper providing wide margins. There is a restored/supported tear in the upper margin along with handling marks, otherwise the sheet is in a very good condition with no significant stains or foxing.

I am selling this large engraving which is the fourth plate in a macabre series of prints presenting a nineteenth century twist to the famous “Dance of Death” allegory—here the skeletal personification of Death offers a sword to insurgents during the German revolution of 1848/9 as a grim foreboding that they may perish in their fight (my apologies if I am wrong about this)—for the total cost of AU$224 (currently US$144.43/EUR147.15/GBP128.89 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

If you are interested in purchasing this visually arresting and historically important wood engraving, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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