Edward Colyer

Dutch (active 1661–1707)

Vanitas

late 1600s

Oil on wood

Gift of Mrs. John C. Blake

1970.2

Colyer (also known as Evert Collier) was a still-life painter whose main subject was vanitas. These allegorical compositions included skulls, hourglasses, musical instruments, and other objects symbolizing human mortality. This theme became popular among the Dutch in the 17th century, but it also represents an ancient artistic tradition, illustrating time’s inevitable victory over life. The two inscriptions read: “pulvis et umbra sumus” (we are dust and shadow) and “vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas” (vanity of vanities and all is vanity).

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