Life and Death Contrasted (ca.1770)

A striking image from the British engraver and publisher Valentine Green, illustrating the idea that life, with all its frivolity and distractions (symbolised by the romance novel, parlour games, and high society lady in all her finery) is in fact - echoing the sentiment of Ecclesiastes (quoted on the obelisk) - nothing but "vanity", all lives as they do inevitably ending in death. The subtitle - "an essay on woman" - does, however, raise the question of whether Green is making a further comment on womanhood itself. See the second picture below for a different version, but this time using the figure of a man.

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