Click to view higher-resolution image

Ars moriendi.
[Leipzig: Melchior Lotter, c. 1500].

One of the most popular genres for Christian meditation in the late Middle Ages was dedicated to “the art of dying well.” This anonymous text and the accompanying series of eleven woodcuts instructed medieval believers in what one needed in order to die in the proper Christian manner: being faithful to God, fully confessed, consoled by family, and without fear, despair, or thoughts of one’s worldly possessions or status. The exhibited woodcut shows, by negative example, how not to behave on one’s deathbed: tempted by a demon, the dying man kicks away those who would help direct his final thoughts to God and salvation.