In this terracotta model, Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) shows Time dominating the skeletal figure of Death.
The Victoria & Albert Museum notes that this conveys the message that the passage of time confirms the immortality of the deceased’s reputation through fame (or of their soul through redemption).
Time raises the coffin out of Death’s reach, thus cheating him of his prize. Death appears to emerge from the ground itself, his skeletal form half decomposed and otherworldly. He effectively meet’s Time’s gaze, signalling a silent communication in which he must admit defeat. Nevertheless, he retains a tight grip on the shroud, with muscles tensed – a last desperate attempt to seize the coffin.
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