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This haunting drawing was made when Meidner was still in her teens. In Germany, the aftermath of the First World War brought little relief from the conflict, as revolution, political recrimination and economic collapse brought turmoil to the defeated nation. The allegorical motif of ‘Death and the Maiden’ (a young girl, often in a passionate embrace with a skeletal figure) had been popular with German artists and musicians since the Middle Ages, and its reminder of transience and mortality was especially appropriate during this period of foreboding.

August 2005