A hermit in monkish garb in a vaulted interior sits surrounded by Vanitas symbols, reminders of the transience of worldly possessions and the inevitability of death. A skull acts as a memento mori, while the hourglass and candle recall the brevity and fragility of human life. In contrast, the hermit seeks spiritual solace in the everlasting truths of the Bible open before him. The picture’s meticulous finish is typical of Dou’s mature style which inspired the formation of the school of Leiden fijnschilders (‘fine painters’) who continued to paint in a similarly polished manner well into the eighteenth century.
Where to see this painting?
The Wallace Collection
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