Memento Mori (Bonis Bona, Malis Mala)
17th century, Oil on panel
The large parchment held by the skeleton with a sneering skull, on which, horror of horrors, flies have landed, reads as a warning to the righteous: "Bonis Bona, Malis Mala" (salvation to the good, perdition to the wicked). This painting is a product of 17th-century Baroque culture, as evidenced by the bold, thick brushstrokes and summary paint handling. It also corresponds to the demands of a public familiar with Counter Reformation culture, who would have understood the horrifying aspect of this admonition to adhere to Christian values. At the same time, the most dreadful aspect of the decomposition of the body could also be interpreted as the love of life. This dichotomy is also typical of the Baroque era, a time of great contrasts and magnificent painting.