Christian Rex van Minnen

Pronk Still Life and  Christian Rex van Minnen

Q: What is a vanitas painting?

A: Vanitas is an adjective describing paintings that remind the viewer of death and the transience of life on earth.  The term vanitas is most often associated with vanitas still life paintings that were popular in seventeenth century Dutch art.  However, the term vanitas can also refer to specific details within the painting (for example, skulls or any other image suggestive of destruction and decay), and we see these details in other genres of painting as well.  Think, for example, of Jacob van Ruisdael’s Jewish Cemetery and Georges de la Tour’s Penitent Magdalen.


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