- Museum number
Plaque, rectangular; painted Limoges enamel on copper: Allegory of Man, a Vanitas of man's life and approaching death. young man and woman under tree with old couple under withered tree; owl, young dog and old dog; inscribed; signed. Polychrome opaque and semi-opaque enamels, details in gilt. Counter-enamel translucent and colourless.
- Production date
- 1581 (circa)
Length: 15 centimetres
Width: 13 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- For a comparable example, see Verdier, 1967, pp. 283-5, ill. p. 284.
According to Verdier, the inscription on the central tablet is a French translation of the famous precept given to Socrates by the Pythian oracle: 'Learn to know yourself'. This was a key motto of Renaissance culture, but was also of medieval derivation through Peter Abelard. It is here applied to an Allegory, or Vanitas, of man's life and of man's approaching death. Iconography taken from the engraving 'Oracle Divin Congnois toy toy-mesme' (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Estampes Reserve Ed. 59 fo. 135), dated around 1581. Courteys did not include the figure of Death, who, in the engraving, brandishes his dart above the aged couple.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1862, London, South Kensington Museum, 'Loan Exhibition', no. 1797
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Sale: Hamilton Palace, Christie's, London, 1882, lot 965, purchased by F. Davis, £178.10 s
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number