A snuffed-out candle, an empty glass, a watch and a skull. This is no random collection of objects. Each one conveys a message of mortality. Memento mori – remember you must die.
The Haarlem artist Pieter Claesz became well-known for his still-lifes featuring a limited palette. In this painting, for example, besides using brown and green, he only used a dash of blue for the ribbon of the watch. He needed no more colour than that to make it look true to life.
right of centre, on the book: PC. Ao. 1630 PC in ligature
(?) Hendrik Six, Amsterdam (sale Amsterdam, 25 November 1851); sale Stockholm, Bukowski, 25 September 1929, lot 9; David Hultmark, Saltsjöbaden, Sweden (sale Stockholm, Bukowski, 26 October 1960, lot 267); S. Nijstad Gallery, The Hague, 1960; purchased with the support of the Openbaar Kunstbezit Foundation and the Rembrandt Association, 1960