A snuffed-out candle, an empty glass, a watch and a skull. This is no random collection of objects. Each one conveys a message of mortality. Memento mori – remember you must die.

The Haarlem artist Pieter Claesz became well-known for his still-lifes featuring a limited palette. In this painting, for example, besides using brown and green, he only used a dash of blue for the ribbon of the watch. He needed no more colour than that to make it look true to life.


  • Title: Vanitas Still Life
  • Creator: Claesz, Pieter
  • Date Created: 1630
  • Physical Dimensions: h39.5 cm x w56 cm
  • Provenance: (?) Hendrik Six, Amsterdam (sale Amsterdam, 25 November 1851); sale Stockholm, Bukowski, 25 September 1929, lot 9; David Hultmark, Saltsjöbaden, Sweden (sale Stockholm, Bukowski, 26 October 1960, lot 267); S. Nijstad Gallery, The Hague, 1960; purchased with the support of the Openbaar Kunstbezit Foundation and the Rembrandt Association, 1960
  • Type: painting; oil
  • Medium: panel

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