The Ambassadors (1533) is a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger in the National Gallery, London. As well as being a double portrait, the painting contains a still life of several meticulously rendered objects, the meaning of which is the cause of much debate. It is also a much-cited example of anamorphosis in painting.
The most notable and famous of Holbein's symbols in the work is the skewed skull which is placed in the bottom centre of the composition. The skull, rendered in anamorphic perspective, another invention of the Early Renaissance, is meant to be a visual puzzle as the viewer must approach the painting nearly from the side to see the form morph into an accurate rendering of a human skull. While the skull is evidently intended as a vanitas or memento mori, it is unclear why Holbein gave it such prominence in this painting.
Charles Allan Gilbert (September 3, 1873 – April 20, 1929), better known as C. Allan Gilbert, was a prominent American illustrator. He is especially remembered for a widely published drawing (a memento mori) titled 'All Is Vanity'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki...
A blivet, also known as a poiuyt, devil's fork or widget, is an undecipherable figure, an optical illusion and an impossible object. It appears to have three cylindrical prongs at one end which then mysteriously transform into two rectangular prongs at the other end.