Vanitas with Soap Bubbles


Attributed to Josse CORTE , known as Giusto le COURT


(1627- 1679)


Material: alabaster

Dimensions: Height: 25 cm (9 ¾ in.) Width: 42 cm (16 ½ in.)

Provenance: private collection

This bas-relief depicts a child resting on a sheet and blowing bubbles of soap across a thin tube. He’s holding in his hand a scallop that contains liquid soap.

The morphotype of Cupids or children of Le Court is a pretty distinctive feature and matches perfectly with the one of our Vanity; plump body, very chubby face, the eyes with thin pupils and long strands of hair as to be blowing in the wind.

The vanity with soap bubbles is a subject rarely treated in sculpture. The representation of balls or bubbles of soap appears as soon as the 16th century in the etchings of Hendrick Glotzius (1558-1617) ; the moral theme of this allegory is fragility, brevity and triviality of life, and the triumph of death. Giusto le Court associates here the soap bubbles and the scallop, funeral and fertile symbol, with a dead tree with its trunk cut at the left of the composition, this cut trunk underlining a little bit more the suddenness of death.

These are mainly the Flemish painters of the 17th century that broach this subject, le Court was able to study this type of artworks in his youth, that had a great success by this time.


JOSSE CORTE (1627-1679)



Josse Corte, also called Giusto le Court, is a Flemish sculptor born in Ypres in 1627 and died in Venice around 1679. He starts his training with his father, the sculptor Jean le Court (1595-1654).

He commences some projects of church decorations in Ypres, but he envisages having a career in Italy.


Already skilled inhis art, he leaves for Rome and joins the studio of the Brussels sculptor François Duquesnoy (1597-1643) who introduced him to the sculptures of the famous Bernini (1598-1680).  Then he becomes one of the best disciples of Bernini, imitating his style without ever being his pupil.

On leaving Rome, he settled in Venice in 1657 and became one of the principal artists of the Venetian baroque period.

He founds a studio where distinguished artists such as Ozario Marinali (1643-1720) or Heinrich Meyring (1628-1723) were formed.


He is known for many works in Venice, such as statues and ornaments for the altar of the Madonna of the Church of Santa Maria delle Vergini or the High Altar of the Church of San'Andrea della Zirada.  But his most remarkable of work is the main altar of the Church of Santa Maria della Salute realized in 1670, rich in details and in movement. His fame was then firmly established because the decrees reveal that the work had to be entrusted to one of the most famous artists of Venice. He also participates in the decoration of the exterior of the church with his students and with the participation of Tommaso Streets. Giusto Le Court then worked shortly in Padua for the basilica of St. Anthony where he performed a funeral monument for Caterino Cornaro, general of the Venetian Republic.