Oil on canvas
The kiss of death.
This astonishing sculpture forms part of Barcelona’s Poblenou Cemetery. The Kiss of Death (El Petó de la Mortin Catalan and El beso de la muerte in Spanish) dates back to 1930. A winged skeleton bestows a kiss on the lips of a handsome young man: is it ecstasy on his face or resignation? Little wonder the sculpture elicits strong and varying responses from whoever gazes upon it.
John Virtue (b.1947, UK)
John Virtue is an English artist who specialises in monochrome landscapes, trained at the Slade School of Fine Art. He moved to Green Haworth in 1971, painting landscapes for two years before abandoning painting in favour of pen and ink drawings comprising dense networks of lines akin to the work of Samuel Palmer. From 1978 he worked as a postman, giving this up in 1985 to work as a full-time artist.
Maintaining a studio in Exeter, he produced works around the Exe estuary, before being offered the post of Associate Artist at the National Gallery from 2003 to 2005. This scheme engages contemporary artists to produce work that “connects to the National Gallery Collection” and demonstrates “the continuing inspiration of the Old Master tradition”. He is honorary Professor of Fine Art at the University of Plymouth.