A Rare Vanitas Anatomical Bust

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Object Description

A Rare Vanitas Anatomical Bust

Carved in Carrara marble, the partially excoriated bust of a male accompanied by the austere figure of a fly, a poignant symbol used in conjunction of the skull and placing this bust firmly within the tradition of Vanitas painting and sculpture.

Italian, Circa 1890

Object History

Vanitas has been a theme present since medieval funerary art. By the 15th century it could be extremely morbid and explicit, reflecting an increased obsession with death and decay also seen in the Ars moriendi, the Danse Macabre, and the overlapping motif of the Memento mori. Paintings and sculpture, such as this bust, executed in the vanitas style were meant to remind viewers of the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death. Common symbols included an hourglass, books, candles, insects, and skulls; the latter two used with great effect by this artist.

Object Condition

Excellent

Object Details

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