Vanitas with Skull, Candle, Flower, and Inscription
18th century, Oil on panel
With its painstaking execution and skilful use of colour, showing fine tonal variation and exquisite chiaroscuro, this Vanitas comes across to the viewer as quite serene. For an audience no longer accustomed to complex allegories, its elements are easy to understand: the dwindling light of the candle in the candlestick, the trembling rose that is losing its petals, the skull resting on a torn sheet of paper, and the obvious inscription Memento. Nothing tragic, nothing too disturbing; it is a beautiful, very well-executed painting, which appears to be from the 18th century, not least because of the pop of magnificent blue on the tablecloth; it is the work of a competent artist, with some hesitation in terms of perspective, but of well executed.