Shakespeare Connected - Not to Be: Death in the Collection
Death and the Maiden
Is this Elizabeth I? No one actually knows! However, what are of particular interest in this portrait are the skulls – one over the maiden’s shoulder, and its reflection in the mirror. The Latin text reads `MORS ULTIMA LINEA RERUM EST' or 'Death is the thing which is last in line' (from Horace, 'Epistles' 1,16,79). It might appear to be a bit morbid but this imagery was very popular in paintings throughout Renaissance England and Europe. It served as a way to remind people to live in such a way as to be deemed worthy of God’s blessing in the next.
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