Breda 1642 - London 1708
Vanitas with a Crown, two Globes and Books.
Oil on Panel, 33 x 31 cm
Signed and dated top right: E. Collier / 1662
Private Collection, France.
Edwaert Collier may have trained in Haarlem where he is first recorded in 1663. It is in here that he painted his earliest and finest work. He is then documented in Leiden from 1667 to 1693 after which he moves to London.
The present painting is one of Collier’s earliest dated paintings, executed when he lived in Haarlem. This painting with its detailed rendering of objects reveals Colliers’ affinity with the Leiden fine painters.
In this composition all the objects painted were carefully selected and arranged to remind the viewer of the transience of life, a popular theme in 17th century art. ‘Vanities’ reminded the viewer of the transitory nature of life, shown here through the candle stump, the hourglass, money bag and the crown. As well as the verse “Vanitas Vanitatum Et Omnia Vanitas”, on the paper protruding out of the red book. This cautions the reader that the acquisition of wealth and worldly possessions are mere vanity. The verse comes from the Ecclesiastes, one of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible. It translates as “Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity”.
While the format of this panel is unusually small it can be compared to the Vanitas in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (oil on Canvas, 102.5 x 132 cm signed and dated 1662, as well as the Vanitas in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York .
Throughout his lifetime, Edwaert Collier did paint on several occasions, similar small scale, almost square compositions on panel. The present panel is the earliest such panel known by Collier.