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This seemingly straightforward arrangement of objects alludes to several major themes of the period. The wider world is referred to by the globe and the atlas. A political element is included through the transcript of a speech delivered by William III to Parliament, concerning the disbandment of the army.

But is the painting wholly worldly, or does it have a more philosophical element? The Latin motto on the left translates as ‘Life is short, but art endures’.

March 2011