Bartholomaus I Bruyn

Skull in a Niche

Skull in a Niche
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Bartholomaus I Bruyn
Painting, Oil on canvas, 37x30 cm
Origin: Germany, First half of the 16th century

In all probability this painting once formed the back of a portrait or a wing of a diptych on the other wing of which was a portrait of the client himself. Such portraits, in which images reminding the viewer to think of death were placed on the reverse were common in the work of Bruyn. He took the idea from Netherlandish art, where they were found in the 15th century and in the 16th . Indeed, the idea of the vanity of vanities runs like a thread through northern humanist culture. The skull is depicted with anatomical precision and placed in a cold stone niche and on the sheet of paper we read: "With no shield to save you from death, live until you die."

Style: Renaissance
Source of entry: via the State Museum Fund from the collection of the Princess of Oldenburg, Petrograd, 1917
Theme: Allegory
Exibition: German Art: 15th - 18th centuries

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