Death has Revealed the Secret of His Life

Accession Number

Death has Revealed the Secret of His Life

Gilles Demarteau; Charles-Nicolas Cochin

Object Creation Date
18th century

Medium & Support
crayon-manner engraving on laid paper

10 3/4 in x 8 1/4 in (27.31 cm x 20.96 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Professor Walter M. and Nesta R. Spink

Subject matter
This complex allegory was published to honor the recently deceased heir to the French throne, Louis Dauphin of France (4 September 1729 – 20 December 1765). Death pulls down a curtain to reveal the allegory. The insignia of the Dauphin is at the top center, and underneath are various personifications of virtues and other allegorical figures (including Justice, Valour, Vigilence, Learning, Prudence, Decency, Modesty, and Conjugal Affection; History writes in a book, and Time is shown with hands bound behind his back). Beneath the image are verse by the fourth-century Roman poet Ausonius, in Latin, and by the 18th century philosophe Denis Diderot, in French.

Crayon-manner engraving was a recent innovation in printmaking that enabled prints to look like drawings; Cochin's design for the print was originally rendered in red and black chalk. 

Physical Description
A group of figures in classical drapery are arranged between two columns and underneath a piece of draped swag ornamented with garland. A coat of arms emanating light is visible behind the swag. At the bottom left, a skeleton almost completely covered in drapery pulls down a larger piece of swag that had been concealing the figural group. All of the figures are women, except for one figure (a winged man with hands bound behind his back). They carry various attributes, such as scales, lillies, a lamp, and so on.
Below the image are several Inscriptions: 
At lower left: C.N. Cochin filius inv. et delin.
At lower right: Demarteau l'Ainé sculp
At bottom center: Nempè quod injecit secreta modestia, velum / Scinditur, et vitae gloria morte patet Aufon. / LA MORT A RÉVÉLÉ LE SECRET DE SA VIE.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
intaglio print

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
allegory (artistic device)
history (discipline)
justice (concept)
princes (rulers)

& Author Notes

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