About a week ago, my old photography partner, Bill, sent along a photo of famed VietNam combat photographer, Larry Burrows. This brought back memories of both VietNam (Bill was a helicopter mechanic during the war there, and I worked as a civilian government person in Saigon at the time) and Larry Burrows’ work. Reminiscing, I told Bill that I always remembered a particular Larry Burrows photograph that I associated with a particular painting from five or six centuries ago. But I couldn’t remember the painting, and it even took me a while to find the Larry Burrows image in question. Well, almost a week later, following a lot of internet research and memory-jogging, I think I have put these together again. First, the photo that Bill originally sent to me (and if this is a photo of Burrows, I don’t know who took it):
Then the Burrows photograph that always sticks in my mind, which documents a moment in the Khe Sanh battle, one of the bloodiest and longest-lasting of the war (11-week siege, with several thousands dying on both sides), where the US Marines, vastly outnumbered, were surrounded and cut off by the North Vietnamese Army.
Finally, the painting — The Triumph of Death c. 1562 — associated in my own memory with this photograph, created by Dutch painter Pieter Brueghl the Elder in circa 1562.