The Empire of Death, 2005

Since I seem to be fixated on the year 2005 (see post below), here’s an important painting from that year:

The Empire of Death, 2005, by William T. Ayton

The Empire of Death, 2005, by William T. Ayton

I was just discussing Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead on my other blog…paintings and other artworks about death tend to transcend time & space & get permanently implanted in the great collective psyche. From the Triumph of Death to Don’t Fear the Reaper, they speak to our anxieties & fears, and the inevitable outcome of all life…

The painting above depicts Death Triumphant, with the land of the living subsumed under his (I see the figure as male) influence. The piece was also done just after The War Room, so I was pondering issues of war & empire, and how establishing and maintaining an empire tends to lead to subjugation and death.

This image has been quite successful in some ways. It was featured on the back cover of Direct Art magazine Vol. 12, and has, over the years appeared & disappeared from the MySpace sites of several lesser-known heavy metal bands. I always thought it would make a good heavy metal album cover. In fact, last year I got an email from one such band asking to use it for a CD cover. Alas, thus far this has not come to pass, I suspect for the usual reasons that music CDs can take a long time to record, and all kinds of other creative decisions intervene. Maybe Metallica will call asking to use it some day soon…

Trivia fact 1: I discovered after I painted it that a Dr. Who (British sci-fi TV series) novel exists of the same name. I used to watch Dr. Who on TV as a child. From behind the sofa.

Trivia fact 2: F. Marion Crawford apparently wrote a short story of the same title, which may or may not have been illustrated by the artist J. Ayton Symington. Google isn’t clear on this. Coincidence?


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