Friday, February 21, 2014

Vanitas, Still Life or Genre?

A typical genre painting image of a scribe or calligrapher almost frozen while writing came to me a while ago after I bought calligraphy set. I thought about another “Vermeerish” image, with the light, window, etc. But then, he never gave men leading roles in his paintings, they were all women, even when a man or two were in the picture. Additionally, I had trouble with the monk-look of my protagonist, there were almost nonexistent in Calvinist Netherlands United Provinces. Finally, I decided to include some recognizable Dutch objects like the map in the background and Delft tiles as baseboard. The scribe looks like frozen which is a Vermeerish characteristics, all his models were like that, never moving….almost like still lifes. In a sense, he was a still life painter.

Anyway, I digress, I thought then about incorporating some Vanitas characteristics and that’s why there is a pear on the edge and a candle which symbolizes the transience of life and the temporary nature of our existence. The books are a symbol of education and a way to keep our thoughts for eternity, which is what the character is doing by writing. In this sense, this could be a Vanitas, I leave the judging to you. 

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