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Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette

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Title: Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Vincent van Gogh, Van Gogh Museum, Cigarettes, Skull, Wil van Gogh
Collection: 1880S Paintings, Cigarettes, Death in Art, Fictional Tobacco Users, Paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Skull, Still Life Paintings, Van Gogh Museum
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette

Skull of a Skeleton withBurning Cigarette
Dutch: Kop van een skelet met brandende sigaret
A skeleton, turned 45 degrees to the right and rendered only from shoulders and above.  The skull clenches a lit cigarette between its teeth.  The painting is rendered in somber tones of ivory, brown, and black, in thick yet detailed brushstrokes that reveal the texture of the canvas in places.
Artist Vincent van Gogh
Year c. 1885–86
Catalogue F212
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 32 cm × 24.5 cm (13 in × 9.6 in)
Location Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette (Dutch: Kop van een skelet met brandende sigaret) is an undated painting by Vincent van Gogh, part of the permanent collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.[1] It was probably painted in the winter of 1885–86 as a humorous comment on conservative academic practices,[1] an assumption based on the fact that Van Gogh was in Antwerp at that time, attending classes at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, classes he would later say were boring and taught him nothing.[2]

In 2008, the painting was used by graphic designer Chip Kidd on the first edition cover for When You Are Engulfed in Flames, a collection of essays written by David Sedaris. Sedaris is said to have been "fascinated with the image" after seeing it on a postcard during a trip to Amsterdam.[2]

Related works

In 1887–88, van Gogh painted two more paintings with skulls, the only other works of his (besides a drawing from the same period) to use skulls as a motif.[2]

Skull (1887/1888)
Skull (1887/1888)


  1. ^ a b "Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette, 1886".  
  2. ^ a b c Bundrick, Sheramy (June 14, 2008). "Memento Mori or Just a Joke?". Van Gogh's Chair (blog).  

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