All Is Vanity
By Charles Allan Gilbert, American Illustrator, 1873 – 1929, the Vanity is considered by many to be one of the finest optical illusions ever conceived. Reproductions of this illusion continue to be popular more than 100 years after the drawing first appeared in print.
The painting is an ambiguous illusion with an allegorical theme, as the title suggests. The two aspects become clear as you study the figure. It can be seen as either, a beautiful girl gazing at her reflection in a large mirror; or the scene can be realized as a grinning human skull. The girl’s two heads make up the eye sockets of the skull, her vanity items, and an embroidered table cloth form the teeth and jaws.