Ivory model of back-to-back skull and head

Made:
Before 1932 in France
Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. From left Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise

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Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

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

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Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

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

License

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

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

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Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

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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.

Look closer

Ivory skull

Details

Category:
Anatomy & Pathology
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A129113
type:
skull
taxonomy:
  • animal remains
credit:
Ferrando