Vanitas Still Life.
 Gijsbrechts, Cornelius

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Title:Vanitas Still Life

Flemish "Vanitas" is a type of symbolic still life painting based upon biblical themes. The term, Vanitas, refers to arts, learning, and time, with the skull emphasizing the certainty of death. In today's reading from Ecclesiastes, the writer laments, "sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil."

Paired with the reading from Ecclesiastes is the Lukan parable of the rich man who put his faith in storing up riches. The rich man's philosophy of eat, drink and be merry brings this response: " But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'"

Artist:Gijsbrechts, Cornelius
Building:Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Scripture:Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
Lectionary links:CProp13
General Subject:Vanitas

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Copyright Permission:This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: you are free to use and to share the file for non-commercial purposes under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license compatible with this one. For uses other than the above, contact the Divinity Library at
Attribution:Gijsbrechts, Cornelius. Vanitas Still Life, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved September 25, 2020]. Original source:
Record Number:51102 Last Updated: 2012-02-06 17:05:57 Record Created: 2007-04-19 00:00:00
Institution:Vanderbilt University Unit: Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition