Allegory of Vanitas thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery

Allegory of Vanitas

Medal
1535-1540 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is a lead medal, made by Lorenz Rosenbaum (active 1535-1563) in South Germany, in about 1535-1540, depicting an allegory of Vanitas. This plaquette derives from an engraving by Bartel Beham.

The art of plaquette making emerged in the south, in Nuremberg and Augsburg, about 1510–20. The plaquettes had the same multiple purpose as their Italian predecessors. They were used mainly by goldsmiths and in bronze foundries, but also by cabinetmakers. The models were carved in wood, stone, slate and wax, then reproduced in bronze and lead. At first glance this might appear to represent the Virgin and Child. However, the presence of the hourglass and skull show that it is a vanitas scene, a reminder of the transience of life.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Lead
Brief Description
Medal, lead, depicting an allegory of Vanitas, by Lorenz Rosenbaum, South Germany, ca. 1535-1540
Physical Description
Lead medal depicting an allegory of vanitas. A mother nurses her child. The skull and bones, and hourglass are reminders of death.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 4.44cm
Object history
Provenance: Tross. 140 medals and reliefs were purchased from M. Henri Tross of Paris for £500 by J.C. Robinson for the Museum in 1867.
Historical context
This plaquette derives from an engraving by Bartel Beham
Subjects depicted
Summary
This is a lead medal, made by Lorenz Rosenbaum (active 1535-1563) in South Germany, in about 1535-1540, depicting an allegory of Vanitas. This plaquette derives from an engraving by Bartel Beham.



The art of plaquette making emerged in the south, in Nuremberg and Augsburg, about 1510–20. The plaquettes had the same multiple purpose as their Italian predecessors. They were used mainly by goldsmiths and in bronze foundries, but also by cabinetmakers. The models were carved in wood, stone, slate and wax, then reproduced in bronze and lead. At first glance this might appear to represent the Virgin and Child. However, the presence of the hourglass and skull show that it is a vanitas scene, a reminder of the transience of life.
Bibliographic References
  • Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1867. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 17
  • Weber, I. Deutsche, Niederländische, und Französische Renaissance Plaketten. Munich, 1975, p. 122-123, no. 144
Collection
Accession Number
107-1867

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record createdOctober 15, 2004
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