(second half 17th century)
Oil on canvas, 115 x 134 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp
Many Flemish still-lifes refer in all their beauty to the transience of life but it was Franciscus Gysbrechts who expressed this transience in the most explicit fashion. His Vanitas is conceived as a grandiose spectacle dealing with the vanity of the intellectual world (globe, books), of the 'vita voluptaria' (musical instruments, smoking implements) and, finally, of the transience of life (skull, hourglass). The moralistic meaning of these still-lifes might have lost some of its urgency as far as modern viewers are concerned, but the visual pleasure which they offer is an equally important aspect.