Adolph Menzel, The Uninvited Guest pt 1 & 2, 1844 & 1845

In the first of the two paintings we see Death at the door, dressed in professional clothes, ringing the doorbell while simultaneously slipping off his shoe before entering. With his head bent down he appears as a humble servant merely carrying out his work. The inscription at the bottom is in Latin and reads “1844: Plusquamperfectum,” in this context meaning ‘1844: Death has arrived.’
In the second scene painted a year later, the Latin referring to the past year’s inscription has changed to read “1844: Perfectum,” which is less fatalistic. The rest of the inscription reads “1845: Immerdar solche Vertheidiger, u.s.w.” that can be translated to mean ‘Always such defenders, etc.’ We see Death flying out the window, narrowly escaping the bottles being flung at him. He loses his hat, shoes, and overcoat in the melee. Apparently he was not welcome! The painting suggests that we control our destiny; even when it’s our time to go.

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