The vanitas still life, in which the compositional elements all allude to the brevity or futility of human life and endeavour, was a very popular genre in Dutch art of the 17th century, and the symbolism of the image would have been well understood by all who saw it.
See also lot 93 for a characteristic portrait by Thopas.
1. R. Ekkart, Deaf, Dumb & Brilliant. Johannes Thopas, Master Draughtsman, exhib. cat., Aachen, Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, and Amsterdam, Rembrandt House Museum, 2014, pp. 65-73, 119-122, nos. 26-34
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