Mortality in Wax: Hellish Tableaus from the 17th & 18th Centuries

By on June 16, 2015

Italian wax relief sculptures from the 1600-1800s depict death and the battle for the mortal soul.
Damned Soul Wax relief

Morbid Anatomy recently shared an entry posted to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s blog last October called Welcome to Hell! with some incredible and macabre depictions of death in wax. These highly detailed and unnerving scenes were memento mori, serving as reminders of mortality.

Here are some of the gruesome wax reliefs in the museum’s collection:

Damned Soul wax relief
“Damned Soul” wax relief done in the style of Gaetano Giulio Zumbo, Italy, ca. 1670-1700.

Souls at death and purgatory
Group of four coloured wax reliefs, possibly by Giovanni Bernardino Azzolino, Italian, probably 1620s. Showing (from top left): Soul at Death; Soul in Purgatory; Blessed Soul; Damned Soul.

Time and Death wax relief
Time and Death, wax relief, Naples, 1700-1740, attributed to Caterina de Julianis, Italy (probably Naples), before 1727.

Photos and info via Victoria and Albert Museum

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