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Wax vanitas, Europe, 1701-1800

Wax vanitas, Europe, 1701-1800

Credits: Science Museum

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Vanitas are works of art intended to remind the viewer of the shortness of human life, the uselessness of vanity and the certainty of death. This example features many symbols typical for this type of object, such as a skull and insects that feast on decaying flesh. The other side of the model shows the face during life. The verse scratched on to the front is from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes and reads “vanity of vanities, all is vanity”.

Object number:

A99821

 

Glossary:

Glossary: vanitas

A type of still-life painting in which the objects are reminders of mortality. These often include hourglasses, scales, mirrors or skulls. Popular in Dutch painting in the 1600s.

Glossary: mortality

The number of deaths which occur in a given area or period, from a particular disease, etc.; the average frequency of death; death rate.