Antonio de Pereda

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The repertoire of objects in a vanitas still-life is confined to external power symbols: crowns—including the papal tiara and mitres, as well as kingly crowns—and a knight's armour were always part of such still-lifes, as was the globe as a symbol of worldwide expansion and a craving for conquests. These "elements of vanity" are of central importance in this painting.

Antonio de Pereda was a Spanish artist (born 1611, Valladolid; died 1678, Madrid). He began as a history painter and was mainly active in Madrid. His Relief of Genoa (1635,Prado, Madrid) was painted for the Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid as part of the same series as Velázquez's Surrender of Breda. He is now best known for his still-lifes. The most famous painting associated with him is The Knight's Dream (also called The Dream of Life or Life is a Dream, (c. 1650, Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid), a splendidly sensuous composition, full of brilliantly painted still-life details, in which worldly pleasures and treasures are seen to be as insubstantial as a dream. It was a key work in the development of the moralizing still-life in Spain, influencing Valdés Leal in particular. However, the attribution to Pereda has recently been questioned, and Francisco de Palacios (1622/5-52) has been suggested as the author.

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