A Curious Early 20thC Miniature Carved Bone Model of a Human Skull Upon an Ebonised Column


Origin: English
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1900-1910
Diameter: 2 inches (at base of column)
Height: 4.75 inches (overall)

In the Victorian taste, the carved bone miniature skull set at an angle showing a full set of teeth mounted upon a stepped ebonised plinth column, the bone showing an aged texture.

The turned column has some signs of old worm, now treated, the skull with its fantastic patina, is attached via a rod and thus can be removed and when in position turned through three sixty degrees. The bone is probably animal bone but it is not impossible that it is human. Either way it is very well worked.

Similar to momento mori examples, many crafted in ivory, it is unclear whether this skull was crafted in Victorian times and then mounted on this base or whether the two parts are of the same vintage. A memento mori sculpture is one designed to remind the viewer of their mortality and of the brevity and fragility of human life in the face of God and nature.

Fascinating even as it repels, this ‘remainder of death’ is a macabre and finely worked piece of art.