Vincent Van Gogh – Skull with Cigarette
This image was made just prior to the beginning of the 19th
century; however it demonstrates a starting point for the shifting trend in
skulls and skeletons in art that we will explore. Van Gogh painted this work
while studying figures from life models at the Academy of Art in Antwerp.
The students were at the time learning in the academic tradition, which
relied heavily on the classical examples and practices of ancient Rome and
Greece. Because Van Gogh did not agree with this form of painting, this
image was most likely meant as a joking mockery of the academic practice.