Lot 155
  • 155

Edwaert Collier

60,000 - 80,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Edwaert Collier
  • A Vanitas still life with a laurelled skull upon an inverted crown, a scepter, a nautilus cup, a jewelry casket, books and a portrait of Caesar on a draped table
  • signed on the print in the lower right: E. Collier. fecit;  
    inscribed on title page of book in upper right: NEMO.ANTE / MORTEM.BEATUs / DICI / POTEST, on the sheet of paper next to the crown: FINIS.CORO / NAT.OPUS, and on the print in the lower right: CIVLIUS CAESAR / I
  • oil on canvas, unframed
  • 29 1/4  by 24 5/8  in.; 74.3 by 62.5 cm.

Catalogue Note

This meticulous vanitas still life is a fine example of the distinctive genre that became a hallmark of Edwaert Collier’s career.   Collier was born in Breda and trained in Haarlem in the early 1660s, where he is recorded in a list of guild members.  His residence in Leiden is fully documented from 1667 to 1693, after which he left for London.  This London sojourn is confirmed by paintings he completed during this period, which are inscribed London and dated between 1693 and 1706 (see lot 214).   The present work was likely completed around 1690 while Collier was still living in Leiden, a town whose Calvinist university and extensive libraries served as a fertile environment for the vanitas theme to thrive among students and professors as well as other local painters such as Jan Davidsz. De Heem and Gerrit Dou. 

In this painting, Collier includes vanitas emblems which invite the viewer to contemplate the transience of earthly existence and the vacuity of worldly pursuits: the skull (all life will come to an end); the nautilius cup (emptiness, which is the literal translation of vanitas); the chest of jewels, the laureled crown, the scepter and the print of Julius Caeser (death takes away all possessions and power of this world).  Furthermore, NEMO.ANTE / MORTEM.BEATUs / DICI / POTEST  (No one can be called happy before his death) has been boldly printed on the large, thick book at the right of the composition, and on the slip of paper in the shadow near the overturned crown is the phrase: FINIS.CORO / NAT.OPUS (the end crowns the work).