Memento Mori Painting
Daniel Preisler (Prague, before 1627-1655 Nuremberg), circle of
Nuremburg, c. 1650
Oil on wood
Dimensions with the frame: Height 56 cm, width 45 cm
Published in: Laue, G.: The Kunstkammer. Wonders are Collectable. Kunstkammer Edition, Vol. 1, Munich 2016, p. 105, p. 124, Cat. No. 56, Fig. 72
The present painting is an example of a memento mori artwork and focuses on the fleetingness of human existence. In particular, the painting underlines the cursoriness of beauty. The painting displays the bust of a woman half living and half dead: on the one side at the peak of her beauty and on the other as a corpse in decay. The inscription on the painting underlines the purpose behind it: to warn humanity against excessive vanity. The attribution of this artwork to the Nuremberg painter Daniel Preisler is based on a comparison with other works by this master that have been preserved in Nuremberg in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum among other collections. Daniel Preisler was born into an exiled family from Bohemia that settled in Dresden in the mid-17thcentury. Preisler began an apprenticeship at the workshop of the Dresden court painter Christian Schiebling in 1642. After traveling, he settled in Nuremberg in 1652, where he worked foremost as a portraitist. In 1654 he painted a large formatted history painting of the fratricide of Cain and Abel for his entry as a master into the Nuremburg painter's guild. This history painting once hung in the conference room of the city hall in Nuremburg. Furthermore, he painted the two grand pianos of the organ from St. Sebald's church with portraits of famous musicians, preachers, and church administrators from the time. Paintings from Preisler have been preserved in the Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg. Although the vanitas theme was particularly popular for paintings in the 17th century, only a limited number of comparable artworks have survived.