Pieter Claesz, ‘Vanitas’, 1656, Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archive

About Pieter Claesz

One of the most important Dutch still-life painters of the 17th century, Pieter Claesz pioneered tabletop still lifes, depicting carefully composed meals that included breads, fruits, and wines. Claesz’s simple compositions are noted for bringing a remarkable presence to familiar items, capturing their rich textures, three-dimensional forms, and the play of light on surfaces. Claesz often included memento mori in his paintings, as in Vanitas (1656), in which a skull and bone are represented alongside an overturned chalice, burning incense, and script music, inviting viewers to reflect upon mortality and the passing of time.

Dutch, 1597-1660, Berchem, Belgium

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Berliner Dom, 
Berlin, Germany,
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