Death surprising a nude Woman ('MORTALIA FACTA PERIBVNT')
engraving, circa 1530-80, on laid paper, without watermark, a good impression of this rare print, trimmed to or fractionally into the subject, some minor staining, generally in good condition
Sheet 352 x 248 mm.

Bartsch XV. 541. 1

Please note this lot is the property of a private collector.
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Lot Essay

This anonymous engraving sums up the idea of the Vanitas image: the woman admires her own beauty in the mirror, unaware that Death awaits her. While the hourglass he is holding represents the fact that life is finite, the wheel represents the continuous movement of time, and the wing may be an attribute of Fate or Fortuna. The inscription "MORTALIA FACTA PERIBVNT" could be translated as 'mortals perish'. It has been argued that the engraving is based on a composition by Michelangelo, although there seems little evidence to substantiate this idea. Although its authorship remains mysterious, this is one of the most important depictions of Death in the corpus of Italian printmaking.

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