A lot of artists (me included) portray death in the form of crazed skeletons and zombies, wielding swords and attacking the living. But I find Adolph von Menzel's understated vision even more chilling.
It's daytime, and the birds are singing outside. Maybe he has been waiting all through the night. But he is patient. His thin heel is slipping out of his shoe. He is a frail skeleton, hunched over, not quite filling the fine coat and hat that once marked him as a gentleman.
From the book of drawings: Das graphische Werk in zwei Bänden
Here's the drawing mentioned by blog reader Christian Schlierkamp in the comments.
"Imaginary View in Menzel's Studio After His Death"
Christian says: "Before he did it a photographer visited his studio and asked him whether he could take photos. As he wanted to shoot the studio from a certain angle Menzel stopped him and asked him not to photograph:
'I still have a drawing in mind that I want to do: This place after Death has visited it and I'm gone. If I see all that in a photo I'm losing the point of doing a study of it.'"