Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vanitas paintings

"Memento mori" ("Remember you must die") was the theme of the address I gave at the Museum of Funeral Customs. My slideshow included images like these, some of them trompe-l'œil (trick the eye) paintings, some of them vanitas, all of them reminders of our mortality--warnings against excessive pride. The first image is an illustration "All is Vanity" (1892) by C. Allan Gilbert. The second is a painting "The Ambassadors" (1533) by Hans Holbein the Younger - the anamorphosed skull in the foreground would look like this if it weren't stretched out. The third is a painting called "Still Life: An Allegory of the Vanities of Human Life" (c. 1640) by Harmen Steenwyck. And the last is a print "Eye" (1946) by M.C. Escher.

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