Baldung Grien, Hans: The 'Ages' series and Death

Picturing the different ages of men and women was a favourite subject of the Renaissance artists, as the symbol of evanescence. (cf the painting of Titian.)

Image The Seven Ages of Woman
Oil on oak-wood, 96.5 x 74 cm; Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig

Image Woman and Death
Tempera on wood; Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland

Hans Baldung-Grien received his artistic education primarily from Albrecht Dürer. He was also influenced by the Danube school, the inspiration of which can be seen in the landscape with the lichen-covered tree. Baldung-Grien here presents a symbolic interpretation of the ages of man in the constant presence of death. The old woman in the painting faces death resolutely but tries in vain to ward him off. The young woman, whose smooth white body contrasts strongly with the half-decayed figure of death, takes no notice of him. Instead, she regards herself in a mirror, a symbol of the vanity and transience of earthly existence. The infant boy on the ground with his hobby-horse embodies the first, immature stage of life. He sees the whole world as yet indistinctly, through a veil.

Image Three Ages of the Woman and the Death
1509-10; Oil on limewood, 48.2 x 32.5 cm; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Image Girl and Death
1517; Tempera on wood; Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland

Image Three Ages of Man and Three Graces
1539; Oil on panel, 151 x 61 cm (each); Museo del Prado, Madrid

© 14 Oct 2002, Nicolas Pioch - Top - Up - Info
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