A Pair of Late 19thC Memento Mori Sculpted & Painted Plaster Skulls

Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1890-1900
Depth: 2.5”
Height: 7.5”
Width: 5.5” (each)

The probably unique pair of ochre painted plaster human skulls, each primitively sculpted with accentuated features and with flat backs and integral hanging hooks, the wholes with a good patination and surviving from late Victorian England.

The skulls are complete without any major losses, the paintwork nicely worn as one would expect and hope for.

The sculpting here is relatively primitive with deep nasal cavities and eye sockets, the teeth elongated, with each feature being extenuated. Although it is hard to tell where these would have been displayed, they would have essentially been designed to remind the viewer of their mortality and of the brevity and fragility of human life in the face of God and nature. Symbolic of the transience of all human existence, the image of the skull has been used by philosophers and theologians, artists and sculptors, writers and poets for centuries to provoke meditative thought on the indiscriminate nature of death.

Spookily good fun and ghoulishly decorative.