German painter and graphic artist. His biggest work, a cycle of frescos from the life of Charlemagne (Town Hall, Aachen), was once much admired as a great achievement of heroic history painting, but today seems hollow and theatrical. The cycle was begun in 1847 but left unfinished because of the madness that ended his career in 1853. Rethel is now mainly remembered for his series of woodcuts Another Dance of Death
(1849), much in the spirit of Holbein s famous depictions of the subject, but satirizing the revolutionary events of 1848, with Death seen as the embodiment of anarchy. Two related woodcuts, Death as a Strangler (1847) and Death as a Friend (1851), were once extremely popular.
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