Vanitas (a popular painting genre in 1600s) will be explored as one thread of the Motherhood series. Vanitas is usually a still life arrangement formed with specific items that symbolise various, often universally assigned concepts. For example a clock would symbolise time, a skull would symbolise death. Traditionally, a Vanitas or Momento Mori (Latin “Remember you must die”) painting refers to the fragility of life, insignificance of material things and the certainty of death. Doubtless, a gloomy topic however in context, Vanitas paintings were heavily linked with religion and existed to encourage people to reflect on their own mortality, regret their sins, repent, and let’s face it, give money to their church. Anyway, the purpose of the art history lesson is that although one should understand the underpinning concept of Vanitas, it can be twisted to depict almost any topic, including parenthood. Exploring Motherhood will modernise Vanitas, and explanations will be given along the way.
Below are some famous examples of Vanitas paintings.