Inventory number
P02220
Author
Baldung Grien, Hans
Title
The Ages of Man and Death
Chronology
1541-1544
Technique
Oil
Support
Panel
Dimensions
151 cm x 61 cm
School
German
Theme
Allegory
On display
Yes
Provenance
Royal Collection (Royal Palace, Madrid, “tercera pieza de librería”, 1814-1818, s.n.)

Death, with his hourglass and broken spear, leads an old woman by the arm. She, in turn, seeks to drag along a young woman at the height of her beauty. A baby lies sleeping on the ground, alongside an owl. A desolate and eerie landscape serves as the sinister setting. Christ appears in the sky, and there is a cross in the sun.

This painting and its companion, Harmony, or The Three Graces (P02219) belong to the artist's last period. Together they describe a complex but clear moralizing allegory that alludes to the fragility of human existence in general, and the destruction of beauty in particular. This one is characterized by a tenebrous Germanic expressionism that tends to move the viewer in the manner of a vanitas, a reminder of the brevity of life.

 
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