The term Vanity finds its source in the verse of the Ecclesiastes "vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas": vanities of vanities, everything is vanity, twin formula of the famous Latin "Memento Mori", recalling the ephemeral condition of human existence , precarious and temporary. To this bitter observation, religion opposes the idea of ??Salvation of the soul after death, and access to eternal life. We then find "in the vanities the religious call, which beyond death, leads to divine rebirth through the practice of virtues and detachment from earthly goods [...]" (Alain Tapié)
In the West, it was after the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation that the Vanitas experienced their golden age, at a time when religious images were invested with new theological issues. In the Catholic sphere, the reflection on death and the last ends is mainly carried by the theme of the Crucifixion and the figures of great penitent saints. Among Protestants, hostile to the figuration of sacred characters, the theme of still life is privileged, until the religious characters of origins of the genre fade completely and embrace more universal issues.
In this context, our skull could have had two destinations. Carved from limewood probably in Germany in the late 17th or early 18th century, it may once have stood at the foot of a monumental calvary, thus signaling Golgotha ??("place of the skull"), where the skull of 'Adam, whose sin Christ redeems by his death on the cross, is believed to have been buried. Finally, our skull could also have been conceived from the outset as a cabinet object, a veritable place of incarnation of painted still life compositions, a memento mori encouraging meditation on existence.
5 800 €