Tuesday, April 05, 2011


“The mirror was often used as a symbol of the vanity of woman. The moralizing, however, was mostly hypocritical.

You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, you put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting Vanity, thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.

The real function of the mirror was otherwise. It was to make the woman connive in treating herself as, first and foremost, a sight.” - John Berger, Ways of Seeing.

The painting is Vanity by Hans Memling, it is the central panel of a triptych called Earthly Vanity and Divine Salvation.

1 comment:

  1. interesting idea - and not one I'd thought of before!