This scene of narcissism and desire is overlooked by a deathly figure, while Cupid holds aloft a tablet, inscribed with a warning from Claudian's De Consulatu Stilichonis, "Luxury, that sweet curse to which time and error hasten. An ill fate that has entrapped many in its snares, weakening the limbs with bane more deadly than that of Circe."1 Considering the brevity of his life, de Backer's oeuvre is remarkably large. He is known to have painted numerous such allegorical scenes, often with a strong moral message suggesting the artist painted primarily for Antwerp's intelletual circle and indeed may himself have had a humanist education.
1. Claudian, De Consulatu Stilichonis, book II, lines 132 - 138.
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