Friday, January 09, 2009

Vanitas Paintings...

During the 16th and 17th century, many artists in the Netherlands and Northern Europe created still-lives rendered in oil of very opulent and rich table settings.  These paintings displayed wealth and power.  As a reaction and an injection of a bit of humility, vanitas paintings arose.  The word, "vanitas" is Latin for "vanity" and refers back to a passage in Revelations in the Bible, which reads, "vanity of vanities – all is vanity."  It basically means that people hold too firmly to the pleasures in life when we are all doomed to die.  So, in vanitas paintings, you'll see a decadent spread, but also  the incorporation of hour glasses, candles, and skulls – all symbols of our mortality.

Above Left: "Vanitas Still Life with Bouquet and a Skull" done in by 1643 by Adriaen van Urrecht in oil paint.

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