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Human Skulls Gottfried Libalt


Gottfried Libalt Hamburg (?), ca. 1610/1611 – Vienna, 1673

Alkotói korszak
Culture German
Date 1660s
Object type painting
Medium, technique oil on canvas

52 x 68.5 cm
with frame: 61.8 × 78.5 × 5.5 cm

Inventory number 53.428
Collection Old Master Paintings
On view This artwork is not on display

This pyramidal stack of human skulls is an extreme example of a vanitas still life. The painting warns the viewer of transience, the inevitability of death, with its message of “memento mori” (remember that you must die). This work clearly shows Libalt’s characteristically melancholic, meditative atmosphere, his monochrome palette, and his impasto brushwork. The painter’s extraordinary technical skill is evident in the way he captured the nine skulls, all seen from a different perspective, and in his choice of raw, naturalistic depiction to accentuate the shocking effect of the spectacle.

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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