Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill

Artist: Pieter Claesz (Dutch, Berchem? 1596/97–1660 Haarlem)

Date: 1628

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 9 1/2 x 14 1/8 in. (24.1 x 35.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1949

Accession Number: 49.107


This is one of the earliest dated still lifes by Claesz, a Haarlem painter who gave extraordinary presence to familiar things. Here a skull, an overturned glass roemer with its fleeting reflections, an expired lamp, and the attributes of a writer suggest that worldly efforts are ultimately in vain.