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The Plague in Florence - 1348

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"The Black Death was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. It is widely thought to have been an outbreak of bubonic plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, although this view has been challenged by a number of scholars. Usually thought to have started in Central Asia, it had reached the Crimea by 1346. From there, probably carried by fleas residing on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships, it spread throughout the Mediterranean and Europe.

The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 70% of Europe's population, reducing the world's population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400. This has been seen as creating a series of religious, social and economic upheavals which had profound effects on the course of European history. It took 150 years for Europe's population to recover. The plague returned at various times, resulting in a larger number of deaths, until it left Europe in the 19th century."
(quoted from Wikipedia)

I've been wanting to paint something with Sleepy Hollow-inspired lighting for some time now.
It was quite a challenge... I wonder if Tim Burton would like it? XD Haha!

In my next painting I want to depict a scene from the same period, but more in the spirit of Boccaccio's Decamerone - a group of young patricians fleeing Florence in 1348 and gathering in the beautiful countryside to tell each other raunchy stories. It would be the perfect "counterpiece" to this one, colorful and cheerful looking...

I'm thinking too much when I should be describing my technique here! :XD: Anyway, this illustration was made just the same way as all my other pictures, under which you sometimes can find links to WIP steps.

The church door here is a photo (my own); everything else is 100% hand-painted with love by yours truly. For the house in the background I used a reference image of Florentine houses (Did they already have green shutters in the 14th century? Probably not...)

Photoshop and Wacom tablet, around 20 hours, blah blah...

Thank you for looking! :D

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Comments121
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I apologize if this seems crass, but I'm afraid the first thing I think of when I hear plague is "bring out your dead!" and the related sketch. Excellent art, though!

If the Black Death killed 30%-70% of population of 450 milion people, then it should leave between 315 to 135 milion not 350 to 375 milion.
NotWithoutHonor's avatar
Great work. Striking & affecting.
JB-Pawstep's avatar
You should draw / paint for history books 8D looks amazing.
juanramram's avatar
zevchafer's avatar
I like the atmosphere a lot. Great work!
AkhillesY's avatar
Really awesome work
DreamsUnderStarlight's avatar
Those birds in the background are gigantic... sorry first thing I noticed. >_> Wonderfully done, very tragic.
MorningMelon's avatar
Brilliant atmosphere and color scheme.
BlankSlateBlankSlate's avatar
If I give you credit for this can I use this in a game I'm developing?
KristinaGehrmann's avatar
Tell me more about your game.
VMcQueen's avatar
i almost can smell the city, man! great job
TheSilverBells's avatar
Amazing painting, as always. ^^

I have a question, why does the man sitting againt the stairs have a bleeding back and no hair? Was he punished for something, or... Is he just there to fill space? xD
KristinaGehrmann's avatar
Thank you :)
I imagined this guy to be one of the flagellants who went around whipping themselves.
cemac's avatar
Congratulations, I have included this wonderful artwork on the front of the :icondigitaldelights: journal in the fourth group feature "Some of my favourite submissions from artists 'L to T'. Thank you for being a member :heart:
Connya's avatar
Awesome job. The only kind of "critique" I could give is that the woman's buboes would be darker in shade/color slightly larger, and all of the fingers of the victims would be darkened as a sign of the infection.... Otherwise this is amazing. Please keep it up
FlowerOfTheCourt's avatar
Simply exquisite. I am intrigued by your style of art and will definitely be keeping an eye on you.
livingpuppet's avatar
lucky sods lol. Wish I had the plague
NOTEBLUE13's avatar
This is quite beautiful.
The detail is impeccable and the expressions on their faces are
filled with so much emotion.
dotsweare's avatar
K:

And here I was thinking that I was the only one who scrolled through Wikipedia and read these history articles late at night/early morning XD
I can definitely see the Sleepy Hollow inspired dark lighting, I bet mr Burton would be proud indeed! The scene is very much in his area of work lol
I love the detail, even down to the shutters on the windows. Hm, I wonder if they did have them? You'd have to think they'd keep the rain out somehow!
Okay, and I love that small rat in the bottom right corner, they truly were everywhere! Roaming the streets, carrying that forsaken disease and spreading it... What a shocking time that must have been!

Beautiful work (:
brokenwings34's avatar
realy beautiful and your description is wonderful..i'm here as an art-lover and too learn..and you really make it in an amazing way:-)...:rose:
biomonkey666's avatar
thank you so much for making prints of this :D
DarkElektra's avatar
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