- Edward Collier active 1662–1708
- Oil paint on canvas
- Support: 838 × 1079 mm
frame: 1004 × 1242 × 70 mm
- Purchased 1949
In this still-life painting the musical instruments, wine and jewels represent the fleeting pleasures of life, while the skull and hour-glass symbolise the inevitability of death. The open book shows a brief poem emphasising the theme of mortality. The Latin inscription in the top left corner comes from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes: ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’. This is why such pictures are known as vanitas paintings. Born in the Netherlands, Collier arrived in England in 1693 to produce still-life paintings like this to sell to the English market. He died in London in 1708.
Gallery label, February 2016
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Read technical information about this painting resulting from examination and scientific analysis by conservators and conservation scientists at Tate
- fine arts and music(3,769)
- food and drink(974)
- reading, writing, printed matter(5,153)
- vessels and containers(2,152)