The Vanity of Worldly Possessions, after Abraham Bloemaert
37.7 cm x 32 cm (14 13/16 in. x 12 5/8 in.)
(Zaandam, The Netherlands, circa 1565 - 1607, Assendelft, The Netherlands)
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
A beautiful female personification clasps and counts a variety of precious objects. The extravagant enframing inscription underscores the significance of the image: the vanity of worldly possessions. Beyond this explicit content, the sheer refinement of technique and elegance of calligraphy create an inescapable irony and reflexive meaning: can one attend such a print any differently from the way Vanity does her objects? Saenrendam’s engraving is a masterpiece of Dutch Mannerism and a timeless emblem of the precariousness of material attachment.