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Portrait of a Donor/Skull in a Niche
Bruges Master of 1480

oil paint oak wood

Currently on view at Mint Museum--RANDOLPH

Gift of the Martin Cannon Family Foundation, Incorporated in memory of Martin L. Cannon, Jr.

The skull was frequently a reminder of death and a symbol of the transitory nature of human life. Here, the skull is painted in grisaille (shades of gray) to resemble a three-dimensional sculpture. Below the skull, a Latin inscription admonishes the viewer: “Why do you, mortal being, raise your head? You will die, too, and will be as bald as this skull. 1480.” Such paintings are known as vanitas from a verse in the Book of Ecclesiastics in the Bible: “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, all is vanity.”

Accession Number: 1978.28A-B


height: 21.375 inches
width: 17.25 inches

Copyright Information:
Public Domain

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