The Masque of the Red Death

So, I’m not sure why this inspiration came upon me during the time of the pandemic, but one of my favorite Edgar Allan Poe short stories (our second Poe entry) is The Masque of the Red Death. The irony and connection is that the story is about a rich prince who seals himself off with his friends during a time of plaque, called the Red Death, while the land around him suffers. He and his friends play on and live in seclusion in his palace.

The “red death” is described as causing bleeding from the eyes, as you can see depicted in the picture. The face is also like a death mask worn by those who died. At the end of the story, a “guest” arrives at the Prince’s final party dressed as the “red death.” It is in fact the plague made manifest.

There is also, in the story, a room with an ebony clock that puts all those at the party ill at ease.

But to the chamber which lies most westwardly of the seven there are now none of the maskers who venture, for the night is waning away; and there flows a ruddier light through the blood-colored panes; and the blackness of the sable drapery appalls; and to him whose foot falls on the sable carpet, there comes from the near clock of ebony a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any which reaches their ears who indulge in the more remote gaieties of the other apartments.

Poe, 1842.

Inspired by this I created the image where the clock and mask of the red death are part one and the same. Lines around the whole are from the story itself. It is, like the “anonymous woman” series done in 6×6 with pencil and pen. The red of the blood done up in colored marker. All other color and details done digitally.

But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell of the clock…bearing of the stranger… had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death…And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death.

Poe, 1842.

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