Top 25 Vanitas artists who changed its history

The genre of vanitas painting first appeared in Europe throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, especially in the Netherlands. The representation of still life objects that represent the transience of existence and the certainty of death characterises this art style.

The word “vanitas” comes from the Latin word for “vanity,” which captures the topic of the genre—the fleeting nature of life and the pointlessness of worldly riches.  Vanitas paintings frequently feature items like books, maps, musical instruments, candles, hourglasses, wilting flowers, and skulls.

Pieter Claesz, one of the most well-known Vanitas painters, frequently depicted skulls, glasses, and books grouped on a table in his still-life paintings. David Bailly, Willem Claesz Heda, and Harmen Steenwijck are a few other prominent Vanitas artists.

1. Pieter Claesz

Vanitas artists

Born: 1597, Berchem, Antwerp, Belgium

Died: 1 January 1661, Haarlem, Netherlands

Nationality: Dutch

Periods: Dutch Golden Age, Baroque

Children: Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem

  • Pieter Claesz was a Dutch Golden Age painter of still lifes.
  • His birthplace was Berchem, Belgium, near Antwerp, and he was an active part of the Guild of St. Luke in 1620.
  • He relocated to Haarlem in 1620. His son and landscape artist Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem was born (on October 1).
  • They and Willem Claeszoon Heda, who also was a part of Haarlem, were among the leading participants of “ontbijt”, or dinner piece.


2. Evert Collier

Vanitas artists

Born: 26 January 1642, Breda, Netherlands

Died: 8 September 1708, London, United Kingdom

Nationality: Dutch

  • Evert Collier was a Dutch Golden Age still-life artist famous for his vanitas paintings and trompe-l’oeil
  • Collier was Baptized Evert Calier at Breda, North Brabant.
  • He received his training in Haarlem in Haarlem, where his first paintings reflect his influence on Vincent Laurensz van Der Vinne.
  • He relocated to Amsterdam in 1686 and later moved to London in 1693.
  • The artist returned to Leiden between 1702 and 1706 from 1702-1706 based on dates and signatures on his work in the city.


3. Pablo Picasso

Vanitas artists

Born: 25 October 1881, Málaga, Spain

Died: 8 April 1973, Mougins, France

  • Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish artist, sculptor, painter artist, printmaker, ceramicist, and theatre designer.
  • He is famous for his role in being the co-founder of The Cubist movement, which was the first to develop the concept of the constructed sculpture.
  • Picasso displayed extraordinary artistic talent during his early years and painted with a naturalistic style through his childhood and adolescence.
  • In the years following 1906 after 1906, the Fauvist work of somewhat older painter Henri Matisse motivated Picasso to investigate more radical designs.
  • Picasso’s work is usually classified in terms of periods.


4. Willem Claesz. Heda

Vanitas artists

Born: 14 December 1594, Haarlem, Netherlands

Died: 1680, Haarlem, Netherlands

Nationality: Dutch

  • Willem Claesz. Heda is a Dutch Golden Age artist.
  • He is well-known for his ingenuity and creativity in the late breakfast style of still-life painting.
  • Heda is a native of Haarlem as the daughter of Haarlem urban designer Claes Pietersz.
  • He was the son of Anna Claesdr and was a member of the Heda family.
  • His grandfather was a painter Cornelis Claesz Heda.


5. Paul Cézanne

Vanitas artists

Born: 19 January 1839, Aix-en-Provence, France

Died: 22 October 1906, Aix-en-Provence, France

  • Paul Cezanne was a French artist as well as a Post-Impressionist painter.
  • Cezanne is believed to have been the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the beginning of the 20th century’s newest art-related inquiry, Cubism.
  • He renounced the use of perspective, departed from the guidelines in Academic Art, and strived for the revival of traditional design practices on the basis of expressive color spaces and the principles of color modulation.
  • He made use of color planes and tiny brushstrokes to create complex fields.
  • The paintings show Cezanne’s meticulous investigation of his subjects.


6. Harmen Steenwijck

Vanitas artists

Born: 1612, Delft, Netherlands

Died: 1656, Leiden, Netherlands

Nationality: Dutch

Period: Baroque

  • Harmen Steenwijck, a Dutch Golden Age painter of still-lifes.
  • Steenwyck was born in Delft. The year of his birth is an approximate estimate based on the appearance of his first work, which was completed in 1633.
  • It was his brother Pieter Steenwijck, a still-life artist, whose father Evert invited them to learn how to paint from uncle David Bailly in Leiden.
  • David Bailly influenced Steenwyck to paint his first piece, “Vanitas”.
  • Harmen began to work as a painting artist Leiden between 1628 and 1633.


7. Clara Peeters

Vanitas artists

Born: 1594, Antwerp, Belgium

Died: The Hague, Netherlands

Periods: Baroque, Dutch Golden Age

Parents: Jean Peeters

Books: Clara Peeters – Paintings and Drawings

  • Clara Peeters was a Flemish still-life painter from Antwerp who was a painter in her home country of the Spanish Netherlands and the Dutch Republic.
  • Peeters is the most well-known woman Flemish artist of the time and is one of the few female artists who worked professionally in seventeenth-century Europe.
  • Academics generally believe that her work hints at her as a native of Antwerp.
  • Peeters was founded in Amsterdam in 1611, and it was recorded at The Hague in 1617.
  • Her style references her training in Antwerp as a pioneering place of still-life specialty.


8. David Bailly

Vanitas artists

Born: 1584, Leiden, Netherlands

Died: 1657, Leiden, Netherlands

Nationality: Dutch

Periods: Baroque, Dutch Golden Age

Education: Cornelius van der Voort

  • David Bailly was a Dutch Golden Age painter.
  • Bailly was born in Leyden within Leyden in the Dutch Republic.
  • As a draftsman, David was his father’s pupil and the copper engraving artist Jacques de Gheyn.
  • He is famous for creating several vanitas-style paintings depicting time’s passing using symbolic images like candles and flowers.
  • Bailly instructed his nieces Harmen as well as Pieter Steenwijck.


9. Antonio de Pereda

Vanitas artists

Born: 20 March 1611, Valladolid, Spain

Died: 30 January 1678, Madrid, Spain

Nationality: Spanish

Period: Baroque

  • Antonio de Pereda was a Spanish painter from the Baroque period, well recognized for his still-lifes.
  • Pereda is a native of Valladolid, the eldest of three brothers in an artistic family.
  • His mother, father, and two brothers all painted.
  • Following the death of Crescenzi’s father around 1635, Pereda was removed from his court. She started to accept orders from religious institutions.


10. Jan Jansz. Treck

Vanitas artists

Born: 1606, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Died: 1652

Periods: Baroque, Dutch Golden Age

  • Jan Jansz. The track was a still life painter in his time in the Dutch Golden Age.
  • Pieter Claesz and Willem Heda also influence their style of his.
  • He also was required to pay for windows that were made to let more light in a while working.


11. Audrey Flack

Vanitas artists

Born: 30 May 1931 (age 91 years), New York, New York, United States

Nationality: American

Periods: Photorealism, Pop art

Spouse: H. Robert Marcus (m. 1970)

  • Audrey L. Flack, an American artist.
  • Her pioneering work in the art of Photorealism encompasses sculpture, painting, and photography.
  • Flack holds many academic degrees, including a graduate and honorary doctorate from Cooper Union in New York City.
  • Flack graduated from New York’sYork’s High School of Music & Art.
  • From 1948 to 1953, she studied fine art in New York, where she was under Josef Albers.


12. Pieter Boel

Vanitas artists

Born: 22 October 1622, Antwerp, Belgium

Died: 3 September 1674, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Period: Baroque

Children: Jan Baptist Boel the Younger

  • Pieter Boel was a Flemish painter, printmaker, and tapestry designer.
  • He was a specialist in extravagant still-lifes and animal paintings.
  • He was sent to Paris in the city of Paris, where he was employed in the Gobelin manufacturing factory. He also was a painter for the King.
  • Pieter Boel revolutionized animal painting by using live wild animals.
  • He created images of animals that show how they behave in nature and distinctive postures.
  • Many people admired him throughout France.


13. Joris van Son

Vanitas artists

Born: 24 September 1623, Antwerp, Belgium

Died: 1667, Antwerp, Belgium

On view: The Walters Art Museum

Period: Baroque

  • Joris Van Son was a Flemish still-life painter.
  • He also designed flower still lives with banquet lives and Pronkstillevens.
  • He is reputed to have painted fish still lives that represent his belief in the Four Elements.
  • It needs to be clarified which artist he was trained by.
  • He was a master in the Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp.


14. Jan Gossaert

Vanitas artists

Born: 1478, Antwerp, Belgium

Died: 1 October 1532, Antwerp, Belgium

Nickname: Mabuse

  • Jan Gossaert was a French-speaking painter.
  • He was among the first artists in the field of Dutch as well as Flemish Renaissance painting to visit Italy and Rome.
  • He was not a printer; however, his drawings are lovely and are a favourite of some of his paintings.


15. Jan Davidsz, de Heem

Vanitas artists

Born: April 1606, Utrecht, Netherlands

Died: 26 April 1684, Antwerp, Belgium

Nationality: Dutch

Parents: David de Heem

Spouse: Alette van Weede (m. 1625–1643)

  • Jan Davidsz was a still artist who painted life.
  • He is a prominent example of the genre in Dutch and Flemish Baroque paintings.
  • He moved into The Southern Netherlands and joined the Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp in 1635.
  • He needed help to satisfy the demands. De Heem was considered one of the best painters at the time.


16. Maria van Oosterwijck

Vanitas artists

Born: 20 August 1630, Nootdorp, Netherlands

Died: 12 November 1693, Uitdam, Netherlands

Nationality: Dutch

On view: Denver Art Museum

  • Maria van Oosterwijck was a Dutch Golden Age painter.
  • Her father took her at just a few years old to the masterful still-life artist Jan Davidsz.
  • Her vanitas works incorporate objects intended to represent the eternal nature of existence.
  • Van Oosterwijck was very religious and frequently symbolically depicted her deep-seated beliefs through her paintings.
  • Van Oosterwijck painted a recurring poetic flourish into her life.


17. Philippe de Champaigne

Vanitas artists

Born: 26 May 1602, Brussels, Belgium

Died: 12 August 1674, Paris, France

Period: Baroque

  • Philippe de Champaigne was a French Baroque-era painter.
  • In 1621 he emigrated to Paris and worked alongside Nicolas Poussin on the decoration of the Palais du Luxembourg.
  • It wasn’t until Duchesne’s passing that he returned to get married to his daughter.
  • He painted several paintings in his Church, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which date back to 1638.
  • He also created a variety of cartoons for tapestries.
  • He was appointed the first painter of the Queen, with an allowance worth 1200 dollars.


18. Willem Kalf

Vanitas artists

Born: 3 November 1619, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Died: 31 July 1693, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Nationality: Dutch

Periods: Baroque, Dutch Golden Age

  • Willem Kalf was one of the most famous Dutch still-life artists in the 17th century, in the Dutch Golden Age.
  • He was baptized that following year in the Church in the parish of Saint Lawrence.
  • He was the son of Machtelt Gerrits and Jan Jansz.
  • His mother passed away shortly following 1638.
  • In the fall of 1646, Kalf was back in Rotterdam However, the city was not his home, as five years later, his name was mentioned in the marriage register for Hoorn. Hoorn.


19. Adriaen van Utrecht

Vanitas artists

Born: 12 January 1599, Antwerp, Belgium

Died: 1652, Antwerp, Belgium

Period: Baroque

Partner: Constancia Utrecht-van Nieuwlandt

  • Adriaen van Utrecht was a Flemish painter.
  • His paintings, particularly those depicting game and hunting, are influenced by Frans Snyders.
  • He regularly worked with some of the best Antwerp artists.
  • Then he returned to Antwerp in 1625 after his father’s passing in the previous year. He was made a free master from the nearby Guild of Saint Luke.
  • In 1626-1646, he taught at least seven pupils. Among them was Philip Gyselaer.


20. Herman Henstenburgh

Vanitas artists

Born: 9 October 1667, Hoorn, Netherlands

Died: 1726, Hoorn, Netherlands

  • Herman Henstenburgh was an 18th-century painter from the Northern Netherlands.
  • As per Johan van Gool, he was excellent at copying prints. He also copied the watercolours from Pieter Holstein.


21. Jan Sanders van Hemessen

Vanitas artists

Born: 1500, Hemiksem, Belgium

Died: 1566, Haarlem, Netherlands

Period: Northern Renaissance

Children: Catharina van Hemessen

  • Jan Sanders van Hemessen was a renowned Flemish Renaissance painter.
  • Van Hemessen visited Italy during the 1520s. There was also Fontainebleau close to Paris during the 1530s.
  • Van Hemessen’s work demonstrates his ability to translate Italian models to create a brand-new Flemish language of visuals.
  • He painted a variety of religious themes, and others might have been destroyed by the storm that hit Antwerp during the year of his death.
  • Van Hemessen is believed to have started his career in the royal court of Mechelen.


22. Simon Renard de Saint-Andre

Vanitas artists

Born: 1614, Paris, France

Died: 1677, Paris, France

Period: Baroque

  • Simon Renard de St. Andre was an artist and copperplate engraver born in the 17th century in France.
  • In his time, he was considered an extremely skilled portrait artist.
  • Many vanitas-inspired paintings are traditionally attributable to the artist.
  • Renard was listed as the painter for the Queen in 1646.


23. Jacob de Gheyn II

Vanitas artists

Born: 1565, Antwerp, Belgium

Died: 29 March 1629, The Hague, Netherlands

On view: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

  • Jacob de Gheyn II was a Dutch painter and engraver.
  • Then, in 1585, the King relocated to Haarlem 1585, where he learned under Hendrik Goltzius over the next five years.
  • He returned to Leiden during the middle of the 1590s.
  • His work has attracted the interest of wealthy patrons.
  • He has been credited with the creation of over 1,500 drawings. These include nature and landscape illustrations.


24. Charles Allan Gilbert

Vanitas artists

Born: 3 September 1873, Hartford, Connecticut, United States

Died: 20 April 1929, New York, New York, United States

Education: The Art Students League of New York

  • Charles Allan Gilbert was a famous American illustrator from America.
  • The drawing is a particular highlight—his widely-published drawing.
  • It is not widely known that Gilbert was one of the first contributors to the field of animation.


25. Sébastien Bonnecroy

Vanitas artists

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