40 Faces of Death: A Grim Reaper Gallery

The Bishop and Death
© Christie's Images/Corbis

Here we see "The Bishop and Death," from "The English Dance of Death" by British artist Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827). The original caption states " "Though I may yield my forfeit breath, the word of Life defies thee, Death." In other words, the promise of Christian resurrection trumps the victory of death -- a common theme in Western traditions.

You can explore other images from this series, all featuring some rather darkly humorous adventures for the bony personification of mortality.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.