Vanitas Still Life

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
oil on wood
Mark Descriptions
Dated l.r.: A. 1629 Signed l.r.: J. Falk f. Inscription l.r.: "Humana cuncta fumus, umbra, vanitas, et scenae imago." (All that is human is smoke, shadow, vanity and the picture of a stage.)
Dimensions
18 1/8 x 15 in.
Credit line
Gift of Alfred Brod
Accession number
59.27
Collection
Currently On View In
William C. Griffith Jr. and Carolyn C. Griffith Gallery - H215

Popular among the Dutch, vanitas still life painting is based on the theme of death's inevitability. The symbolic meaning of the skull is obvious, while the rose and the oil lamp both serve as metaphors of life's brevity and fragility. The meaning is underscored by the Latin inscription: "All that is human is smoke, shadow, vanity and the picture of a stage."

Private Dutch Collection, possibly in The Hague, by 1933.{1} (Alfred Brod, London);{2} purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1959 (59.27)

{1}The painting was included in the exhibition "Het Stilleven" held at the Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 18 February - 19 March 1933, cat.no. 92 (as Jeremias Falck, "Twee doodskoppen met roos," 1629) with the provenance "Particuliere Nederlandsche verzameling." When it was illustrated in an article by Marcel George Roethlisberger, "Abraham Bloemaert's Vanitas Representations," Delineavit et sculpsit (Leiden), vol 5, 1991, no. 9, the author lists the (former) owner as "The Hague, Private Collection."
As concerns a possible Goudstikker connection, this painting is not included in the May 1940 Goudstikker Blackbook which has recently been digitized, see http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/site/pages/content/exhibitions/special/goudstikker-blackbook/blackbook.html
{2}IMA Temporary Receipt No. 6723. The painting was probably included as no. 8 in the Alfred Brod Gallery's Winter Exhibition 1957, 6 December 1957-4 January 1958.
Reproduction of these images, including downloading, is prohibited without written authorization from VAGA.

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