This hithero unrecorded canvas by Fris is a notable addition to his oeuvre. Only three other still lifes with this 'memento mori' theme are known; one dated 1670, with Christie's, London on 7 July 2004, lot 48; one dated 1666 with Sotheby's, London, 30 November 1983, lot 97; and another one dated 1667 formerly with Rapp (see W. Bernt, Netherlandish Painters of the Seventeenth Century, Munich, 1969, I, p. 391).
Several objects re-occur in other compositions by Fris, such as the globe, skull, flute, roll of paper, and the large bone. The marble statue of the putto can be identified as the Enfant Debout by François du Quesnoy (1597-1643) (see M. Boudon-Machuel, François du Quesnoy 1597-1643, Paris, 2005, no. In.113 ex.1, illustrated). Fris may have only seen a plaster cast of this statue for the composition.
Little is known about the Johannes Fris' life, who worked his entire carreer in Amsterdam. His dated works have all been painted between 1647 and 1672.
We are grateful to Mr. Fred Meijer of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie for confirming the attribution after inspection of the original (verbal communication, 15 March 2007).