Death, Design and the Dutch

Death, Design and the Dutch

Sometimes I look at a European still life and think:

Great, some rich dude with bountiful access to fruit once sipped from a goblet, tipped over candlesticks and never finished his supper. What of it?

Even when impressed by the skillful realism of a half-peeled lemon rind, I’m left with opulence fatigue.

Jan Davidsz. de Heem. Still Life with Fruit and Lobster.

But the Dutch helped me rethink the whole still life thing.

Don’t get me wrong, they too liked their grape-bunches, silver teapots, and velvet folds. But they also used still life paintings to warn against hedonistic pleasures.

During the Golden Age, a period of great wealth, Dutch artists used symbolism to convey deeper meaning within their paintings.

Pieter Claesz

Dutch ‘vanitas’ paintings (Latin for ‘vanity’) used symbols like toothless skulls and snuffed-out candles to represent the brevity of life. They reminded viewers that death is certain and emphasized the emptiness of material pursuit. It was an awareness campaign and a call to repent.

My Vanitas Earrings don’t ask wearers to re-examine their morals (although I have no issue with them doing so and would love to hear the result!).

But they do remind us that…

Het Leven is Kort.  

Life is Short.

These earrings were designed for NCMA (see exhibit info below). Quantity is limited, contact me for more info.

Check out the other Dutch-inspired designs for this exhibit.

WARNING: they’re way less dark ;)

> Lots more here!

Learn more about Dutch art at the museum!

North Carolina Museum of Art

Dutch Art in a Global Age:
Masterpieces from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

September 16, 2023 – January 7, 2024

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