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Wooden memento mori showing a woman with half a head and half a skull, Italy, 1801-1900

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.

Object number:

A641349

 

Glossary:

Glossary: statue

A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.

Glossary: memento mori

Symbols intended to remind the viewer of death. Memento mori are often objects such as skulls or hourglasses, but can also be written inscriptions.