STOSKOPFF, Sébastien
(b. 1597, Strasbourg, d. 1657, Idstein)

The Great Vanity Still-Life

Oil on canvas, 125 x 165 cm
Musée de l'Oeuvre de Notre Dame, Strasbourg

This vanitas still-life points emphatically towards the vanity of "art, riches, power and daring", as pronounced on the slate hanging in the foreground. The items lined up side by side in doctrinal fashion are presented in relation to death. At the same time, Stoskopff's painting seems to question the declaration on the slate by lending permanence and status to what is fleeting. It is precisely the reference to their transience that heightens our aesthetic pleasure in these illusory examples of worldly values, no more real than the theatrical props in a harleqinade - as referenced by the commedia dell'arte character of Zani, who winks at us from out of the picture.

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