(b. 1622, Sevilla, d. 1690, Sevilla)

Finis Gloriae Mundi

Oil on canvas, 220 x 216 cm
Hospital de la Caridad, Seville

Valdés Leal's two relentlessly gruesome paintings are located just inside the entrance of the chapel of the Hospital de la Caridad in Seville. The first, entitled In Ictu Oculi (In the twinkling of an Eye), is a highly charged representation of the futility of worldly goals and pursuits. The path of glory lead but to the grave, which is unflinchingly rendered in the companion picture, Finis Gloriae Mundi (The End of Worldly Glory), where vile bugs feast on the rotting remnants of human flesh. Here the choice of salvation or damnation is graphically offered in the scale that appears above the corpses: nothing more (ni mas) than worldly pursuits is needed for perdition. On the other side of the balance are instruments of prayer and penance: nothing less (ni menos) is needed to save the soul. However, the scale is in equilibrium and the additional weight for salvation can only be provided by performing the acts of mercy represented in the clear light of the chapel.