Eve, the first Pandora - Jean Cousin the Elder. C. 1550
Jean Cousin the Elder only a few paintings are attributed, although there is evidence that he designed the defenses, repaired the clock, and restored the statue for the cathedral of his hometown of Saint in southern France. His paintings combined the influences of the Dutch school, Italian mannerists and the Fontainebleau school; in this elongated nude figure (c. 1550) the motifs of ancient mythology and Christianity are combined. In mythology Pandora brought evil to the world; she is identical to Eve and is shown here holding the biblical apple of temptation, and the skull on which she rests, apparently, recalls the mortality of people. This image is a vivid confirmation of the dangers posed by women.
SKULL. Monks and saints used skulls as objects that facilitate meditation, as they reminded of death, and in Dutch still lifes skulls were included as memento mori - for example, in the work of Harmen Stenwijk Allegory on the vanity of human life (1612). In allegories about the ages of a person, the old man usually holds the skull, while in the picture of Frans Hals the Young Man Holding the Skull (1626-1628) this object symbolizes the running of time.
In the scenes of the Crucifixion, a skull is also often found. According to legend, Christ was crucified on the very spot where Adam was buried, and Adam's uncovered skull indicates that Christ sacrificed himself for the atonement of the sins of mankind.