What are vanitas paintings?
Vanitas - Still Life with Books and Manuscripts and a Skull by Evert Collier
What is the meaning of vanitas paintings?
The term 'vanitas' is inspired by the Bible verse "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 1:2) which emphasises the traditional Christian view that the pursuit of earthly pleasures and possessions is futile when compared to eternal salvation. Vanitas artwork encourages the audience to reflect on the direction of their lives and repent.
Vanitas still life with skull, books and fruit by Harmen Steenwijck
Understanding the symbolism in vanitas paintings
Vanitas still-life with 'Boy with Thorn' ('spinario') by Pieter Claesz
Interested in learning more?
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