This painting is almost always considered a self-portrait of Samuel van Hoogstraten at the age of around seventeen. The painter, however, does not look at the public, which is strange because he would have had to use a mirror to paint his portrait. Conversely, another self-portrait dating from 1644 shows no resemblance to the young man depicted here. That is why there is some doubt about the identity of the young man. The extinguished candle, the books, the hour-glass and the skull on the table are attributes that refer to mortality.
Why he paint attributes that refer mortality?
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered
Themes of mortality and ephemerality were very common in the seventeenth century. Such ideas fitted into the highly religious seventeenth century society. Visual symbols in the arts therefore often contained a message that would remind the viewer of its own limited life span and the importance of a pure (immortal) soul.
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|Title||Young Man Reading with Vanitas Still Life|
|Material and technique||Oil on panel|
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
|Location||This object is in storage|
Width 74 cm
Height 58 cm
Samuel van Hoogstraten
|Accession number||1386 (OK)|
|Credits||Schenking / Donation: A.F. Philips-de Jongh 1935|
|Age artist||About 17 years old|
|Collector||Collector / Vitale Bloch|
|Geographical origin||Northern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe|
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