By: Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
This curious and somewhat sinister painting is not dated. Van Gogh probably painted it in the winter of 1885-86, during his stay in Antwerp. The painter left the Netherlands (Nuenen) in November 1885 and went to Antwerp. He went there to study model painting at the Art academy in January 1886.
In the traditional Antwerp Academy the students were taught by copying prints, the copying of plaster casts and - if they were a bit further - to paint a model. To study the human anatomy a skeleton often was used.
This skull with cigarette is undoubtedly meant as a joke and probably also as an ironic commentary on the traditional teaching methods of the academy.
Or perhaps Vincent was a visionary and he knew smoking could kill you........