“Vanitas”, ( Latin , "vanity" )* in art, is a genre of still-life painting that flourished in the Netherlands in the early 17th century. A “Vanitas” painting contains collections of objects symbolic of the inevitability of death and the transience and vanity of earthly achievements and pleasures; it exhorts the viewer to consider mortality and to repent. The “Vanitas” evolved from simple pictures of skulls and other symbols of death and transience frequently painted on the reverse sides of portraits during the late Renaissance.
Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica
*Credit: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam