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Edward Altham (Latton 1622 – Rome 1694) 
Self-portrait as a Hermit: Post Mortem Summa Voluptas and Detail.

A full-length portrait of the artist himself wearing hermit’s habit. He was a cousin of Jerome Bankes and lived in Rome, having been received in to the Church there in 1652. His arms are crossed against his breast and his right foot rests on books with torn pages inscribed as the works of Epictetus (Epicurus), which bear the label 'Post mortem mulla voluptas' (There is no pleasure after death). He gazes upon a scroll, inscribed 'Post mortem summa voluptas' (The greatest pleasure is after death), which hangs from a branch above a pedestal, on which rests a copy of the Gospels and a skull. The pedestal is carved with a carved relief of a figure of Time devouring a statue of a classical torso (the Belvedere Torso), copied from Francois Perrier’s ‘One Hundred Statues Spared by the Envious Tooth of Time’ (1638). These various references reveal a tremendous conflict of thought. Altham was an imitator of Salvator Rosa, by whom this picture was long thought to be by. The oil sketch of the head, also at Kingston Lacy, was painted by an unknown artist in Rome. x

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