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This elaborate still life is a 'vanitas' painting, a reminder of the fragility of life and worldly concerns, and of the inevitability of death. Among the objects on the table are musical instruments, a celestial globe, a watch and a sword. A statuette stands near the back and a print with a portrait of Michelangelo hangs down from the table. The book, open on a page describing the Dutch town of Haarlem, is propped up on a skull, which, together with the hourglass in the background, is a reminder of mortality.
National Trust, Dyrham Park
Vanitas Still Life with a Statuette of an Antique Athlete and a Print of Michelangelo
oil on panel
H 89.5 x W 64 cm
bequeathed to the National Trust by Dame Joan Evans, 1977