he cardinal is about sell a letter of indulgence to a man, who's brought a chest full of money. Death has placed the hourglass on the Cardinal's armrest and now grabs the cardinal's hat and turns it around.
Some commentators believe that it's a not a letter of indulgence, but that the cardinal has just received his appointment from the Vatican. However, the Bible quote above the picture supports the first interpretation — Esajas 5,23: »[Woe unto them] Which justify the wicked for reward.«
The picture is framed by grapevines and bunches of grapes to remind us that true forgiveness of sins is only possible through Jesus' blood.
Variations: Aldegrever as usually makes a free interpretation and
Eberhard Kieser copies Aldegrever.
Birckmann adds an espalier for the grapevine, but removes the money box.
Chytraeus is the only copyist who copies Birckmann's espalier.
Valvasor copies Birckmann - including the mistake with the missing money box, the carving of the chair and the angle of Death's arm, but he moves the scene in front of a stately house without grapes.
For unknown reasons, Mechel moves the scene indoor without grapes.
Bewick and Anderson repeats (strangely enough) Birckmann's error with the missing money box. Anderson puts a coin in the cardinal's hand (as payment for the letter of indulgence?).