Wednesday, 19 September 2012

William Dyce and Omnia Vanitas

'Omnia Vanitas' (1848) by William Dyce; Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums, Aberdeen

Today I didn't have to go and search for a painting. My sister had discovered this painting by Scottish painter William Dyce, born on 19 September 1806. I had looked up his dates and drafted him for today. He studied at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh and the Royal Academy Schools in London. Being one of the first British students of early Italian Renaissance painting, he visited Rome for the first time in 1825 and met a group of young German painters, the Nazarenes. He exhibited at the Royal Academy on a regular basis and made portraits for a livelihood. He explored the style of the Pre-Raphaelites as a result of his Italian studies, in a quest for primitive simplicity in his paintings. Later in his career, he took up fresco-painting. Dyce is furthermore known for his significant role in the formation of public art education in the UK. I think today's painting is very beautiful and the woman's face somehow looks very modern to me. Normally I'm not too fond of the depiction of the skull in paintings (also a common feature in paintings of Mary Magdalene) but here I don't even mind it very much. If you want to read more about the skull being a symbol of vanity, click here.

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