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© 2005 Spencer Shimko Vanitas ARTS106 Art History II Presentation Spencer Shimko
© 2005 Spencer Shimko What is Vanitas? Vanitas is the Latin for vanity vanity in the sense of emptiness a worthless action all human action is transient in contrast to the everlasting nature of faith Also known as momento mori
© 2005 Spencer Shimko So what does that really mean? A vanitas is: a theme found in many periods an image that invites viewers to contemplate their own mortality pleasure of life only lasts a moment since time is limited, one must live fully in each moment
© 2005 Spencer Shimko Common Vanitas Symbols Skulls Skeletons Candles Hour-glasses and clocks Overturned vessels Flowers (often withering) Bubbles
© 2005 Spencer Shimko Vanitas Still-Life Pieter Claesz 1630 Germany Oil on Canvas Skulls show the finiteness of man & limitation of human knowledge (note the books or papers)
© 2005 Spencer Shimko Young Man With a Skull Frans Hals Germany 1626-1628 Oil on Canvas Humans are subject to time This time inevitably ends with death
© 2005 Spencer Shimko St. Jerome in His Study Joos van Cleve Netherlands c. 1525 Skull and crucifix Golgotha Hebrew for Skull Also note candle
© 2005 Spencer Shimko The Ambassadors Hans Holbein the younger German 1533 Oil on Oak Skull represents seat of thought Note instruments and astronomy pieces on top shelf
© 2005 Spencer Shimko The Ambassadors (cont.)
© 2005 Spencer Shimko Vanitas Still Life Maria van Oosterwijk Netherlands 1668 Oil on Canvas Skull reminds us of vanity of visual arts natural beauty Transience of human existence
© 2005 Spencer Shimko Vanitas Still Life with Portrait DAVID BAILLY Dutch c. 1650 Oil on Canvas Passing of time symbolized by bubbles, flowers, candle, sundial, hourglass
© 2005 Spencer Shimko Flemish School c. 1640 Oil on Panel
© 2005 Spencer Shimko Flemish School (cont.) Under the Skull: I was as you are now. You will be as I am in the future. Above the flowers: As the beauty of the flower does not last long, a human being also quickly fades. Above the hourglass: Time runs fast, all youthful grace vanishes before one is aware of it. On the book, page 59: Oh human being you are a wandering guest on earth, flesh is the hay of the Lord, the same as a flower in a garden by cultivation reaches a higher level of quality. Page 60: as a lit candle has to burn so does a person have to fall into deaths hands. Across the timepiece: a metal of oblivion. On the paper on the ledge: Look and pray or you will face no day of peace.
© 2005 Spencer Shimko References Cheney, Liana. Symbolism of the Vanitas in the Arts, Literature, and Music: Comparative and Historical Studies. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991. Flemish School, Circa 1640 – A Vanitas Still Life. 10 October 2004. Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts. 29 April 2005. http://www.steigrad.com/cat/flemishsch1640.html Janson, Jonathan. A Glossary of Art Terms R-Z. 2005. Essential Vermeer. 29 April 2005. http://essentialvermeer.20m.com/glossary/glossary_q_z.htm#V ANITAS http://essentialvermeer.20m.com/glossary/glossary_q_z.htm#V ANITAS Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History, Second Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002. Vanitas. 29 March 2005. Wikkipedia. 29 April 2005. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanitas
© 2005 Spencer Shimko Questions?
David Bailly – Self Portrait Vanitas Symbols
Pieter Boel – Large Vanitas Still Life
Barthel Bruyn Vanitas Still Life
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