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Miniature Coffin


Not on view

Miniature boxwood coffins originally consisted of three components nested one inside another, tripling the impact of the message that life is short, death inevitable, and punishment for sin certain. The dark warning is conveyed by images of progressively decaying corpses and by inscriptions. Of the three miniature coffins in the exhibition, the most emphatic text and images are found on the example from The Met collection. Drawn from a parable in the Gospel of Luke (16:20–31), they concern a wealthy man known as Dives (Latin for "rich") who, having refused to give even the crumbs from his table to a beggar named Lazarus, has been condemned to hell. Desperately, and absurdly, the man implores Abraham to send Lazarus, now safely in paradise, to help him; Abraham summarily dismisses his plea.

Miniature Coffin, Boxwood, Netherlandish

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