Wax vanitas, Europe, 1701-1800

Made:
1701-1800 in Europe

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wax model of a female head depicting life and death, European, possibly 18th century

This is a wax model of a female head depicting life and death. One side shows a beautiful woman; the other shows the head exposed as a skull and with worms and snails on and around it. The head is mounted on a base which has an inscription attached: 'Vanitas Vanitatum & omia Vanitas Ecc: Cap i/V2'. This is from the Bible, Ecclesiastes, chapter 1, verse 2, which is translated in full in the New English Bible as "Emptiness, emptiness, says the speaker, emptiness, all is empty". The model is European, possibly from the 18th century.

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.

Details

Category:
Anatomy & Pathology
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A99821
Materials:
cloth and wax
type:
vanitas
credit:
Born-Traub