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Mirror of human life

  • Speculum Humanae Vitae. Tapestry. A Coruña Museum of Fine Arts © Ministerio de Cultura

    Speculum Humanae Vitae. Tapestry. A Coruña Museum of Fine Arts © Ministerio de Cultura



Decorative arts



Cultural background


Original title

Speculum Humanae Vitae
A Coruña Museum of Fine Arts
La Coruña
A Coruña, Galicia

This tapestry features an unusual allegorical depiction which was intended to convey a moralising message on the idea of death.

The central theme of the tombstone, with a lifeless figure at its foot, is the Wheel of Fortune, here represented as a Wheel of Vanities of the world, and symbolising the fleeting nature of earthly power. The theme is inspired by the Italian models, and on an engraving and drawing from the period. The monument is framed with a border showing a Dance of Death symbolising life’s extinction. The conjunction of these elements offers an iconographic image which, completed by the inscriptions on the tapestry, is intended to invoke a reflection on our unstable human destiny.

Details of the work

Donation of María Esteban Collantes y Sandoval


334 x 252 cm

Linen, wool and silk


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