I learned about vanitas still lifes in the winter of 2012. The museum had an exhibition of Still-Life Masterpieces: A Visual Feat from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the exhibition, but it was available to wander through during the holiday gala; so, we did.
And, we learned something important. We learned about the style of still life that is a memento mori. Some of them are pretty heavy handed. Full of skulls and clocks and hourglasses. Others are more subtle. There will be flowers in vases that would only last for a day, never for the amount of time that was necessary to paint them. Or less than perfect fruit that has bruises on it. Sometimes, there will be Spring flowers with Autumn fruit.
This painting is a great example of the second kind. Notice the bruises on the peaches. And the irises in a vase with morning glories. The lapin corpse and grey butterfly aren’t so subtle. But, I really enjoy this painting.