This 19th century folk art piece belongs to the centuries-old tradition of memento mori; artistic or symbolic reminders of death’s inevitability and the futility of worldly pursuits. On the left, Death’s personification has shorn a candle of life, ending the story contained within the fallen journal. On the right, Life holds a blossom to her heart in recognition of its preciousness and fragility. The artist chose to portray Life and Death not as separate and opposing forces, but as aspects of the same figure, each necessary to the other.
(Image by the Wellcome Library, London, CC BY 4.0).