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Vanitas Mirror - James Vibert (1872-1942)
Vanitas Mirror - James Vibert (1872-1942) - Curiosities Style Vanitas Mirror - James Vibert (1872-1942) -
Ref : 111347
11 500 €
Period :
20th century
Artist :
James Vibert (1873-1942)
Provenance :
France
Medium :
Wood, mirror glass
Dimensions :
l. 17.32 inch X H. 25.59 inch X P. 5.51 inch
Curiosities  - Vanitas Mirror - James Vibert (1872-1942) 20th century - Vanitas Mirror - James Vibert (1872-1942)
Desmet Galerie

Classical Sculpture


+32 (0)486 02 16 09
Vanitas Mirror - James Vibert (1872-1942)

Vanitas Mirror

Patinated wood
France, c 1900
James Vibert (1872-1942)
Singed ‘J Vibert’ on the frame


H 65 x W 44 x D 14 cm
H 25 2/3 x W 17 1/3 x D 5 1/2 inch

James Vibert's Mirror with Entwined Snakes presents a captivating blend of symbolism and craftsmanship, inviting viewers into a contemplative exploration of mortality and vanity. This ornate mirror, adorned with a sculpture as a wooden frame, serves as a poignant reminder of the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death.

At the heart of the frame are two intricately carved serpents, their sinuous forms intertwining from the top to the bottom of the mirror. Symbolizing regeneration and cyclical renewal, the snakes evoke themes of eternity and the eternal cycle of life and death. However, their union is not without complexity; their entwined bodies suggest a tension between opposing forces, perhaps reflecting the duality of existence itself.

Yet, it is the figure of a woman that truly commands attention within the composition. Sculpted into the frame, she sits as a guardian of the mirror, her presence both mesmerizing and unsettling. With her back turned towards the viewer, she embodies youthful allure, her exposed skin and flowing locks exuding an aura of sensuality. However, upon closer inspection, her front reveals a stark contrast – a skull and a deteriorated body, a stark reminder of the fragility and impermanence of beauty and youth.

The juxtaposition of these contrasting elements – the serpents symbolizing life's cyclical nature and the woman embodying the transient nature of beauty – creates a powerful narrative of mortality and vanity. As viewers gaze into the mirror, they are confronted with their own mortality, reminded of the fleeting nature of existence and the futility of earthly pursuits.

James Vibert's background as an ironworker and his association with French Symbolism add depth to the interpretation of this piece. His artistic journey, from Lyon to Paris and eventually to Switzerland, reflects a lifelong exploration of existential themes and artistic expression. When moving to Paris in 1891 he joined the studio of Rodin and he made himself familiar with French Symbolism. Vibert's mastery of craftsmanship is evident in the intricate detailing of the frame, while his symbolic imagery speaks to a deeper philosophical inquiry into the human condition.

In conclusion, this mirror stands as a poignant memento mori, inviting viewers to reflect on the transient nature of life and the pursuit of ephemeral pleasures. Through its masterful craftsmanship and profound symbolism, James Vibert's work transcends mere aesthetics to provoke contemplation and introspection, echoing the timeless themes of mortality and vanity throughout the ages.

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