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Relief - Death as a Skeleton

Death as a Skeleton

  • Object:

    Relief

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (perhaps Milan; formerly thought: probably Germany, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 - ca. 1870 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory relief

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W.L. Hildburgh F.S.A.

  • Museum number:

    A.45-1953

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Personifications of Death as a skeleton were common in German sculpture from about 1500 onwards and examples occur frequently among the contents of 17th century Kunstkammern (or 'cabinets of curiosities').
This relief appears to imitate 17th century memento mori in the same tradition but is unusually large scale and the very generalised nature of details such as the symbols of wordly power suggest a 19th century date, though presumably before 1880 when another version was sold with the collection of Possenti da Fabriano in Rome. This relief, mounted on a board with textile covering, could evenually also be Italian, perhaps from Milan.

Physical description

Personification of death as a skeleton. Death, draped with a swirling cloth, leans against a pillar, with mechanical wheels and a sundial, and symbols of vanity, such as knight's helmet and a papal tiara, at the base. The ivory relief is mounted on a board with textile covering.

Place of Origin

Italy (perhaps Milan; formerly thought: probably Germany, made)

Date

ca. 1850 - ca. 1870 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Ivory relief

Dimensions

Height: 31.5 cm, Width: 15.2 cm

Object history note

Given by Dr. W. L. Hildburgh, F. S. A., 1953.

Historical significance: Personifications of Death as a skeleton were common in German sculpture from about 1500 onwards and examples occur frequently among the contents of 17th century Kunstkammern (or 'cabinets of curiosities').

Descriptive line

Relief, ivory, Death as a Skeleton, Italian (perhaps Milan), probably a mid 19th century pastiche

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Theuerkauff, C. Die Bildwerke in Elfenbein des 16. - 19. Jahrhunderts, Berlin, 1986, p. 341, note 26
p. 457
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, p. 457, cat. no. 506
Kappel, Jutta, Laue, Georg & Trusted, Marjorie, eds., A Passion for Ivory, Munich, 2015, pp. 54-55.

Labels and date

Personifications of Death as a skeleton were common in German sculpture from about 1500 onwards and examples occur frequently among the contents of 17th century Kunstkammern (or 'cabinets of curiosities').
This relief appears to imitate 17th century memento mori in the same tradition but is unusually large scale and the very generalised nature of details such as the symbols of wordly power suggest a 19th century date, though presumably before 1880 when another version was sold with the collection of Possenti da Fabriano in Rome. [1988]

Production Note

Probably mid 19th century

Materials

Ivory

Techniques

Relief

Subjects depicted

Armour; Sundial; Skeleton; Pillar; Tiara; Helmet

Categories

Death; Reliefs; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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