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Earthenware statue showing Death leading a canon to his fate, Germany, 1701-1830

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The label in German at the base of the statue records a conversation between Death (the skeleton) and a canon or choirmaster who is standing next to him. Death says: So canon, you have loud and long Been chanting your choral song; Now harken to my pipe so clear, Announcing that your death is here The canon replies: Yes, I have sung as canon free Full many a grave sweet melody; But Death’s pipe such discord has made That I’m sore, startled and afraid This statue draws on illustrations from the ‘Dance of Death’ at Basel, a series of illustrations that first appeared in the 1400s. Other illustrations show the Pope, clergymen, rulers, blind men, peddlers and court jesters being led by the hand by Death, emphasising that regardless of social status or wealth no-one is exempt.

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Glossary: statue

A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.

Glossary: earthenware

Pottery made of clay which is fired at a relatively low temperature. Earthenware is often semi-porous, meaning some liquid or air can pass through it. This can be altered by treating the pottery with a glaze.