Pagan Vanitas by Richard Greathouse

15th Annual ARC Salon (2020-2021)

Richard Greathouse

Pagan Vanitas

2018

80 × 65 cm | 31 1/4 × 25 1/2 in

Oil on canvas

  • Honorable Mention / Fully From Life

Having made a few different portraits of this particular sitter, who has an interest in anatomy and collecting bones, I wanted to make a larger painting that spoke to her curiosities. The painting is a take on the Vanitas theme, with the sitter looking out at the viewer while gently clutching a human skull. To her side hangs the spine of an animal, the remains of which the sitter found when exploring the woods around her home. Behind her is a reference to the fresco of Flora, from the ruins of Pompeii. Though the skull and bones may remind one of death, the inclusion of the fresco speaks to that which lies beyond it – and how we partake in a cycle beyond the scale of our individual lives. The sitter's apparent contentedness in the face of this inevitable truth was of great inspiration to me.