Memento mori showing woman with half a head and half a skull

Made:
1801-1900 in Italy
maker:
Unknown
Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. From left

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

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.

Wooden bust of a woman, half head, half skull, mounted on a ivory and wooden stand, possibly Italian, possibly 19th century

Carved from wood, this statue shows a woman with half of her head intact and the other half with a bare skull. This type of figure is known as a memento mori – literally a reminder of death, used to prompt people about the shortness of life and the inevitability of death. A skull was used to represent death from the 1500s onwards, replacing the older image of a skeleton leading a living person to their fate.

Details

Category:
Anatomy & Pathology
Object Number:
A641349
Materials:
bust, metal, bust, mineral, bust, wood, stand, ivory, stand, metal and stand, wood
type:
memento mori
taxonomy:
  • visual and verbal communication
  • sculpture
credit:
Loan, Wellcome Trust