Memento mori (Latin for ‘remember that you [have to] die‘) is an artistic or symbolic trope acting as a reminder of the inevitability of death. The concept has its roots in the philosophers of classical antiquity and Christianity, and appeared in funerary art and architecture from the medieval period onwards.
Ivory bust of General Wallenstein, a memento mori of half skull half head, mounted on an ebony and metal stand studded with stones from his tomb.
Wooden memento mori – head of a woman, half skull, half head, mounted on an ebony stand. Depicts a female head divided into 2 halves, 1 half shows a woman’s face and hair – the woman is biting an apple, the other half shows a skull. The hair is coiled on the back of the head along with a snake which stretches forward along the side of the skull to bite a twig.
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum
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