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(Lat.: ‘vanity’ or ‘emptiness’).

A type of still-life picture depicting an object or collection of objects symbolizing the brevity of life and the transience of all earthly pleasures and achievements. Typical motifs are a skull, an hourglass, a watch, a smoking candle, and a flower losing its petals. Such paintings were especially popular in Dutch and Spanish art of the 17th century. At this time vanitas elements were often found in portraits and figure paintings as well as in pure still lifes.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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