Comparing Col Tempo And Gregor Erhart's Vanitas

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At first glance, Giorgione’s Col Tempo and Gregor Erhart’s Vanitas, seemingly have no correlation to one another. Col Tempo paints the portrait of a genre style old woman who looks forlorn against an empty background, and Vanitas uses sculpture to juxtapose a frail emaciated woman against a beautiful lithe young woman and an even younger girl. As one delves in deeper to the symbolic meaning behind the two works of art, it rapidly becomes clear that the two have one chief characteristic in common with one another: the portrayal of elderly women in the early 16th century. Though the two pieces differ largely in their mediums, sizes, and subject portrayal to an extent, further research into their iconography and the purpose of their making serves…show more content…
The words “col tempo” are inscribed because of their meaning, “with time,” possibly a reference to the passage of time and the woman’s aging. There is some notion that the words were painted on after the painting was finished, and by someone other than Giorgione himself. As far as other iconography within the painting is concerned, Jane Hatter expands on Erin Campbell’s analysis, by citing her and then saying that Col Tempo may instead be alluding to a musical background. Where Campbell indicates that the elderly woman’s mouth is agape because she is speaking, Hatter states that she instead might be singing and col tempo refers to, “the passing of musical time.” The placement of the woman’s arched and somewhat serpentine hand serves to point the viewer toward her heart, another indication of the old woman’s dwindling years. The iconography of Vanitas is a bit more evident to the naked eye; the entire piece serves as a sort of continuous narrative of the life of a young girl, into a beautiful and chaste adult woman, into an eerie, decrepit old woman. The subtractive, freestanding sculpture calls into question the viewer’s own mortality. The drama of the small sculpture is only heightened by the moments frozen in time during each point during the woman’s life that is capture. As well as this, drama is added even more so when the piece is put under a direct light source (as is done in its current museum exhibit), and deep shadows are formed and contrasted with the high points of the protrusions of various limbs on each figure. Michael Baxandall, the author of The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany, took on the daunting task of deciphering the meaning behind German Renaissance sculpture, which was created largely during a tumultuous time that little attributable sculpture remains from. One can guess that Vanitas

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