The Death of Earl Siward

James Smetham, 1821-89


Featured in the Art Journal: 281

Note: the Smetham Collection at Oxford Brookes University has two etchings on the subject, both dated c.1860, and The Tate has an etching dated 1861. — Jacqueline Banerjee.

"The Death of Earl Siward" ... commemorates the undaunted passing of Siward the Strong, a Danish follower of Canute, who aided Malcolm Canmore in his unsuccessful attempt to recover from Macbeth, representative of the Celtic party in Scotland, his father’s kingdom. Apprehending the approach of death, the Earl caused himself to be clad in armour, set on his feet, and so sustained “that he might not die crouching like a cow.” Sweetness and Strength support him, the staves of Death’s henchmen — the introduction of whose hands only reminds us of Blake’s ecstatic design of "The Sons of God shouting for joy" — visible to right and left. — The Art Journal, 282

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