The Kiss of Death

Jaume Barba's The Kiss of Death (1930) conveys a creepy seductiveness

Jaume Barba’s The Kiss of Death (1930) conveys a creepy seductiveness

Welcome to the city of the dead. No admission charged. In the current times of crisis a visit to Poble Nou Cemetery is a free if slightly morbid excursion for a sunny day. Pick up an itinerary at the gate, which will offer you a route through this necropolis of neo-Gothic and neoclassical extravagance.
Or if you prefer to go straight for the kill, the map will lead you into one of the farthest forgotten corners of this dead zone, where you can appreciate the Kiss of Death [El petò de la mort].

Details such as Death’s hollow ribs and tunic are exquisitely rendered

Details such as Death’s hollow ribs and tunic are exquisitely rendered

This sculpture [1930] by Jaume Barba has an erotic charge that could have inspired Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal [1957], as the work conjures up a similar, creepy seductiveness in the way Death plants its icy, mortal kiss on this kneeling youth’s cheek. The sculpture, unusual in that the figure of Death is traditionally depicted in such scenes as a winged angel rather than this gelid skeleton, is intriguingly anachronistic in a pre-Raphaelite kind of way. Details such as Death’s hollow ribs and tunic are exquisitely rendered three-dimensionally to allow the cavities and spaces to play as strong a role as the form.

Fabiesi's angel and maiden (1880) presides over the pantheon of Pere Bassegoda

Fabiesi’s angel and maiden (1880) presides over the pantheon of Pere Bassegoda

Other sights to see in this cemetery – designed by Antoni Genesi and the first to be opened outside Barcelona’s walls as part of a plan to improve urban hygiene in 1775 – include a work by the Italian sculptor Fabiesi, depicting an angel carrying a maiden up to heaven. It was created in 1880 for the pantheon of Pere Bassegoda.

Also worth a look is the obvious cult worship which the tomb of young Francesc Canals Ambrós, alias “el Santet”, still enjoys. Though he died at twenty-two, the famously kind “little saint” is still supposedly responsible for all kinds of miraculous cures.

El petò de la mort [The Kiss of Death] by Jaume Barba, 1930. Cementiri de l’Est, C/ Taulat, 2, Poblenou.

 

Get the guide BCN Free Art 01: The Port and Barceloneta! Go to www.poblesecbooks.com to purchase a print copy.

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One thought on “The Kiss of Death

  1. please if possible email me some information of the other sculpture made by the same artist Jaume Barba the one who made the sculpture kiss of death

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