It’s October, which gives us a great excuse to feature a spooky post featuring skulls! Specifically, their appearance in the still lifes known as Vanitas.

Herman Henstenburgh, 1667 – 1726 | Vanitas Still Life | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Vanitas depict objects that remind us of our mortality and the transience of earthly pleasures. Popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly in Northern Europe and the Netherlands, the genre continues to inspire artists to the present day – the Artstor Digital Library includes four terrific examples of Andy Warhol’s Skulls from the Baltimore Museum of Art, and you’ve most likely heard of Damien Hirst’s “For the love of God,” a diamond-encrusted platinum skull reputed to be the world’s most expensive art piece.