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Our vanitas collection are symbolic pieces of art that contrasts symbols of prosperity with symbols of ephemerality and mortality to demonstrate the fleeting nature of existence, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death.

In our collection of memorial artworks you will find paintings, lithographs and photographs.

The term “vanitas” comes from the Latin phrase “vanitas vanitatum,” which means “vanity of vanities” or “meaninglessness of earthly life.”

There are a lot of symbols in a painting or artwork with vanitas as the theme.

For example, such a painting shows a skull, dried-out flowers and extinguished candles to indicate that everyone eventually dies. Wilting flowers and rotting fruit symbolize decay such as aging.

Musical instruments, such as the lute, are placed in the painting to indicate the ephemerality of music (after the last note is played it becomes silent).

In addition to musical instruments, smoke, watches and hourglasses also indicate the shortness of life.

Vanitas art originated in the Netherlands in the 16th century. It was a response to the growing wealth and materialism of the time, as well as the increasing religious and philosophical interest in the concept of death.

Read more in our article about Vanitas Artworks.