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Young Man Reading with Vanitas Still Life

Young Man Reading with Vanitas Still Life

Samuel van Hoogstraten (in 1644)

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  • Sofía asked

    Why he paint attributes that refer mortality?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Sofia,
    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.
    Kind regards,


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More information

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.

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title Young Man Reading with Vanitas Still Life
Material and technique Oil on panel
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Width 74 cm
Height 58 cm
Artists Schilder: Samuel van Hoogstraten
Accession number 1386 (OK)
Credits Schenking / Donation: A.F. Philips-de Jongh 1935
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1935
Age artist About 17 years old
Collector Collector / Vitale Bloch
Research Alma
Geographical origin Northern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

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All about the artist

Samuel van Hoogstraten

Dordrecht 1627 - Dordrecht 1678

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