Vanitas still life paintings, perennial crowd-pleasers in today’s art museum collections, originated in the Netherlands in the early 17th Century. This was the answer of Dutch protestants to the excesses of the Papal Rome, a not-so-subtle reminder that all earthly glory and material success was, at best, transitory.
At the outset of 2009, as we Americans face a sobering reality, the theme of Vanitas suddenly seems as fresh and timely as ever. Better still, why not a Vanitas Mirror? A dressing table mirror, known as “vanity”, is already a fixture of many bedrooms. The Vanitas Vanity would provide a contemplative note to start the day, to put things in perspective, and to be grateful for what we still have.
Happy New Year!