Τρίτη, 9 Οκτωβρίου 2012

Ivo Saliger (1894-1987) "Der Arzt" and his memento mori works


Ivo Saliger (1894-1987) was an Austrian artist, known both for his original etchings and paintings. Der Arzt are two emotionally powerful, allegoric depictions of the physician's epic struggle to save human life. Der Arzt features a surgeon fending off death, which has in it's grasp a patient. A real life drama involving the artist's sister, provided the inspiration for this work. The tale told in a letter from Saliger to a student at Case Western Reserve University. The student, Mrs.Killpack, had written to Saliger asking him about the motivation that lay behind Der Arzt:


Now to the spirit and the meaning of this picture. It developed out of my mourning. I had a sister. At the close at 1918, as World War I was ending, she got sick. That is to say, the illness, which was perhaps already there, broke out - Lymphogranalomatosis. Several physicians of great stature made an effort to stem her suffering, but we knew it was hopeless. She was 22 years old at this time. I brought my sister to Switzerland, because of the quality of care there. A famous surgeon, the leader of the Zuricher Cantonshospital, endeavored to help my sister. I had known him in Vienna and I was living in his home in Zurich at this time, as a houseguest. Apart from the case of my sister, as a guest, I often listened to my host and his wife discuss other cases at the hospital. There they endeavored to help patients with a succession of diagnostic tests, to delay the inevitable end. Now an inspiration came to me. I went to my comfortable guestroom and made the first full-size preliminary sketch for the picture. A female figure, barely alive, clinging to the physician, who is attempting to fend off Death, who in turn threatening the patient's life. Perhaps intuitively, I portrayed the face of the physician with a skepticism, an uncertainty, whether the fight will end well or not. Well, to conclude - the physician's eternal fight with Death, is to save human lives. My sister died in April 1920. Cause: Leukemia. At the end of June 1920, after 2 months work, my etching stood complete. This is the real story behind this etching. (SOURCE)

Probably the next image is also related to his sister fatal illness and his strong faith to modern Medicine:

Print showing a physician using x-rays to repel Death, personified as a skeleton wearing a shroud, as it approaches a young woman on an operating table.
Next imeges are of memento mori subject:

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