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Final Farewell: The Culture of Death and the Afterlife

Memento Mori

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The Card Game of Death

Memento Mori imagery often features figures and objects that are symbolic of life and death. In this dramatic Baroque composition, a skeleton, representing Death, throws his winning hand of cards onto the orb The Card Game of Deathof the earth. A shocked woman on the right tosses her hand of cards into the air, as Death appears to be triumphant over her. In the upper left corner, a winged male figure (an allegory of Time) throws his hand of cards onto the ground and flees, representing the idea that a person’s time is finished upon death. The Cupid, who symbolizes Love, tries to play, but Death wins. Beneath the orb lies an hourglass, an object used in memento mori artwork to symbolize that time is always running out for the living.

Giuseppe Erts
(Venetian, 17th–18th c.)
The Card Game of Death
1663
Oil on canvas
(68.455)
Gift of Russell M. Arundel

 

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