Ivory model of back-to-back skull and head

Made:
Before 1932 in France
maker:
Unknown

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License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

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Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. From left
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Ivory model of a human skull and head, back to back, covered with worms and toads, possibly French

One side of this carved ivory head shows a human face crawling with worms; the other side shows a skull crawling with toads after the worms have eaten away at the flesh. Not much is known about this model, but it is thought that it is a memento mori – literally a reminder of death and the shortness of life. The skull was the symbol of death from the 1500s onwards. Previously death was represented as a skeleton accompanied by a living victim. The model was purchased from a private collection in Rome, Italy, in 1932.

On display

Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Ivory skull

Details

Category:
Anatomy & Pathology
Object Number:
A129113
type:
skull
taxonomy:
  • animal remains
credit:
Ferrando

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