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Vanitas Paintings Essay Example

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Vanitas Paintings

Vanitas Paintings. Vanitas paintings are a form of paintings which were very popular in the Netherlands in the 17th century. Vanitas paintings were not only meant for artwork, but they also had moral messages. These paintings are interesting since the message being conveyed is always hidden and in most cases, the ‘first glance meaning’ is not the true meaning. Moreover, despite the paintings being done very many years ago, there are aesthetically appealing. It is also fascinating to master about the stories behind this form of still life. Biodiversity is brought out in different ways in a variety of Vanitas painting. This paper will discuss three examples of Vanitas paintings and connect each to biodiversity.

Vanitas Still Life
The Vanitas still life painting shown above was drawn between 1600 and 1699 and was done by J Falk. Its main theme is based on the inevitability of death. The skulls show that at one point in life everyone has to die. The painting also includes a rose flower that depicts the fragility of life. There is also an oil lamp beside the flower and the skull. The oil lamp symbolizes the kind of brevity that is required in life. As understood by the Latin people, the picture passes the meaning that happens in life is short-lived, and sooner or later death will catch up. In relation to biodiversity, the picture combines plants and humans to create a unique meaning.
Vanitas skull
The Vanitas skull painting below was done by C.Jones in the late 16th century. The butterflies in the picture represent nature while the skull represents death. The hidden meaning of the painting is that life is very short. Despite the beauties of life, death always comes. Butterflies around and inside the skull pass a message that death is surrounded by good times. It acted as a death reminder. In relation to biodiversity, the picture combines the animal world and the human world to pass a message. . Vanitas Paintings.


Gardner, Helen, and Fred S. Kleiner, Gardner's Art through the Ages: A Global History. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013.

Mohr, Ingeborg. Memento Mori: Paintings and Poetry. [Gananoque, Ont.]: Renate and Veronica Mohr, 2008.

Schneider, Norbert. Still Life: Still Life Painting in the Early Modern Period. Köln: B. Taschen, 1994.

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preview essay on Vanitas Paintings
  • Pages: 1 (250 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Visual Arts & Film Studies
  • Level: Ph.D.
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