HOME

BENJAMIN WEST

DEATH ON THE PALE HORSE, 1796

About the Artwork

The title of this painting is taken from the final book of the Bible, the Revelation of Saint John the Divine, which has often been interpreted as a symbolic description of warfare: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And Power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (Rev. 6:8).

In this horrifying chronicle of the destruction of humankind, the rugged irregular forms, the dramatic contrasts of light and dark, and the dynamism of the turbulent movement combine with the distorted faces and pitiful gestures of the dead and dying to convey a sense of terror. The violent furor exhibits a destructive dynamism that makes this one of the most awesome depictions of the methods by which a world may be annihilated.

In 1796, the year this work was painted, England was at war with revolutionary France, and West’s picture may have been intended to comment on what was happening, or was expected to happen, in the contemporary world.

Popular Images

About Our Prints

Quality
DIA Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.
Selection
Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.

Member Discounts

DIA Members will receive their 10% discount for all DIA Custom Prints purchases. If you are Member, enter the email address associated with your membership when you check out; once your Membership has been validated, your discount will be applied. Member discounts cannot be combined with other offers.