A Woman Meditating on a Skull (1591)

Renaissance Woman meditating on a skull

TITLE: Woman Meditating on a Skull (1591)
ARTISTS: Andreani, Andrea (1558/9-1629) (printmaker)
after Alessandro Casolani (1552/3-1607) (artist)
LOCATION: British Museum Print Room Cracherode collection

COMMENT:

The activity represented is that detailing the pursuit of intellectual, cultural, spiritual contemplation. And this image is laden with symbolism. As well as the altarpiece-like representation, the human skull, the clock and the lamp all symbolise the transience of human life.

The person depicted in this quasi-realistic domestic setting, who is not a saint or biblical character, as so often seen in Renaissance printmaking, but an ordinary woman standing in a contemporary Renaissance dress looking at the skull she is holding delicately in her hands on the table before her.

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