Painted in Antwerp, Jan. - Feb. 1886.
Vincent smoked tobacco...
"Did I you already tell that I have taken up smoking a pipe again?
I have found in it an old faithful friend, I believe that we never more will separate.
Uncle Vincent told me that you smoke too."
(Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, Paris, 10 Dec. 1875).
This undated painting...at the Van Gogh Museum in Antwerp, renders a macabre vision of a smoking skeleton in a muted, monochromatic palette. It remains somewhat ambiguous whether the artist van Gogh was making a serious commentary on the brevity of life, or a sardonic jab at the seriousness of morbid art. The museum website explains: “It was probably executed in the winter of 1885–86, during Van Gogh’s stay in Antwerp. This skull with a cigarette was likely meant as a kind of joke, and probably also as a comment on conservative academic