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Vanitas Still Life with a Statuette of an Antique Athlete and a Print of Michelangelo

Edwaert Collier (Breda c.1640 - Leyden c.1707)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1675 (signed and dated)

Materials

oil on panel

Measurements

895 x 641 mm (35 1/4 x 25 1/4 in)

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Collection

Dyrham, Gloucestershire (Accredited Museum)

NT 453822

Caption

This elaborate still life is a ‘vanitas’ painting, a reminder of the fragility of life and worldly concerns, and of the inevitability of death. Among the objects on the table are musical instruments, a celestial globe, a watch, and a sword. A statuette stands near the back, and a print with a portrait of Michelangelo hangs down from the table. The book, open on a page describing the Dutch town of Haarlem, is propped up on a skull, which, together with the hourglass in the background, is a reminder of mortality. This painting is at home among the Dutch and Flemish paintings at Dyrham Park, but does not form part of the property’s historic collection. It was, instead, bequeathed to the National Trust by the art historian and antiquarian Dame Joan Evans (1893–1977), and is displayed at Dyrham because of the suitability of its style and subject matter.

Summary

Oil painting on panel, Vanitas Still Life with a Statuette of an Antique Athlete and a Print of Michelangelo, by Edwaert Collier (Breda c.1640 - Leyden c.1707), signed mid-left: Edwaerdus Colier / f 1675. A range of objects displayed on a table covered in red, gold-fringed cloth, with the stone base of a column in the right background. Most prominent on the table is an open printed book, with the inscription "Beschrijvinggen van de Stadt / HAERLEM" visible on the recto. The book rests on a skull to the right. A red recorder, or handfluyt, and a roll of paper, on which there are no legible inscriptions, rest on the stand of a celestial globe in the background, the sign of cancer most prominently visible. To the left of the book is a statuette of an antique athlete, with a torch in his left hand and another object in his right. Between the statuette and the globe is an hour glass. On the table in front of the book is another wind instrument, a sword, an open pocket watch on a chain, a slip of paper bearing the inscription VANITAS / VANITATUM / ET OMNIA / VANITAS, and a print with a portrait of Michelangelo hanging over the edge of the table.

Provenance

Bequeathed to the National Trust by Dame Joan Evans (1893–1977).

Credit line

Dyrham Park (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

Middle left: Edwaerdus Colier: / f 1675 In a cartouche, on the portrait print in the lower right-hand corner: • MICHAELANGELVS • BVONAROTVS • NOBILIS • / FLORENTINVS • AN • AET • SVE • LXXI • / • QVI • SIM • NOMEN • HABES • SATQ • EST • NAM • CAETERA • / • CVI • NON • SVNT • NOTA • AVT • MENTEM • NON • HABET / • AVT • OCVLOS • M • D • XLV • On a piece of paper, on the table: VANITAS / VANITATUM / ET OMNIA / VANITAS On the recto folio of the book, open on the table: Beschrijvinggen van de Stadt / HAERLEM On the astrological globe in the background to the right: GIMINI [? sic]; CANCER; and LEO On the reverse, in pencil, on grey paint, on top member of the frame: E 745 On a tablet on the front of the frame: E. COLIER, 1675

Makers and roles

Edwaert Collier (Breda c.1640 - Leyden c.1707), artist

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