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Vanitas: Allegory of the Vanities of Human Life

Major collection: Holography
Named collection: Holography Collection
Object type: Digital holographic stereogram
Maker: van Heerden, Tijn; Swetter, Erik; Geola Digital, Ltd., Lithuania
Place made: Netherlands
Date made: 2011
Measurements: 12" x 16"

Vanitas is the Latin for Vanity, in the sense of emptiness or a worthless action. 'Vanity of Vanities, saith the preacher, all is vanity' (Ecclesiastes 12:8). The implication of these words from the old Testament is that all human action is transient in contrast to the everlasting nature of faith. In this hologram objects which suggest human achievements like the book and violin, are related to reminders of mortality: the candle which has been snuffed out, rotten fruit, which symbolises decay; bubbles, which symbolise the suddenness of death; smoke and hourglasses, which symbolise the brevity of life, and musical instruments, which symbolise the ephemeral nature of life. The rare Roemer glass and the nautilus shell symbolise wealth. The candle and the hourglass also allude to the transience of life, and all the objects are dominated by the skull, a reminder of the certainty of death: the great leveller, which puts an end to all worldly achievements. Hologram is matted and framed.


Gift of Tijn van Heerden

Related People

van Heerden, Tijn