A Man with Pansies and a Skull

Probably painted around 1535 in the Northern Netherlands. The pansy symbolises thought (from the French 'pensée') and the skull is probably intended as a memento mori (a symbol of human frailty and reminder of death).

The unidentified sitter is sombrely but richly dressed in clothes which suggest the portrait was painted in about 1535 in the regions of the Low Country north of the Rhine and Meuse. The artist may have been a member of Scorel’s workshop but does not follow his method of underdrawing.

Key facts

Artist dates
1495 - 1562
Full title
A Man with Pansies and a Skull
Date made
about 1535
Medium and support
Oil on oak
27.6 × 21.4 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1878
Inventory number
Location in Gallery