Vanitas Still Life

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A painting showing objects on a table which include a human skull, a timepiece, a glossy blue ribbon, a snuffed oil lamp and a stack of brittle sheets of paper.

Pieter Claesz (1596/97–1660)
Vanitas Still Life, 1630
Oil on panel
15 ½ x 22 in. (39.5 x 56 cm)
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague
Acquired in 1960 with the support of the Openbaar Kunstbezit Foundation and the Rembrandt Society
Inv. no. 943

The vanitas  image is a reminder of life’s brevity and the worthlessness of material objects. Nevertheless, one cannot resist savoring Claesz’s rendering of the glittering timepiece with its glossy ribbon, the reflections on the snuffed oil lamp and overturned glass, the brittle pages, and the jagged fractures and crevices of the skull.


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