(b. ca. 1640, Breda, d. 1710, Leiden)

Vanitas Still-Life

Oil on canvas, 98 x 130 cm
Private collection

This is an early work by Collier, painted during a period when he produced some of his finest work. He produced vanitas still-lifes throughout his career. The present version includes a candlestick, musical instruments, Dutch books, a writing set, an astrological and a terrestrial globe and an hourglass, all on a draped table. The objects signify that wealth, knowledge and power are all earthly, temporary and ultimately meaningless. The burning candle, pocket watch and hourglass denote the passage of time and brevity of life; the violin with a broken string indicates the transient pleasure of music; the money bag denotes the worldly riches, the scholarly books and globes the vanity of learning, and the military flag the worldly power. On a piece of paper at far right one can read: Vanitas/Vanitatu(m)/Et Omnia/Vanitas [Vanity of Vanities, All is Vanity], (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

Similar vanitas still-lifes by Collier dated 1662 can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.