This sombre lithograph is in the tradition of seventeenth-century Dutch still lifes known as vanitas, which comment on the transitoriness of worldly pleasures. A book traditionally alludes to excessive pride through learning, and a wine jug to temporary pleasure. The skull is a memento mori, or reminder of death. Picasso was superstitious about death and kept a skull in his own studio, which appeared in a number of his works. Made on 20 February 1946, this print is inevitably associated with the widespread suffering caused by the Second World War.