Vincent van Gogh, Head of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette, 1888

Van Gogh’s Head of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette may seem chilling now but at the time of its painting it was meant to be a joke, a satire.

He completed it during his time at the art academy in Antwerp, Belgium where skeletons were often used to study anatomy a practice he found both boring and useless. His disappointment and disagreement with his curriculum coupled with illness and dark palette influence of other Dutch artists gives us what is widely considered Van Gogh’s most macabre work.

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