Each bead of the rosary represents the bust of a well-fed burgher or maiden on one side, and a skeleton on the other. The terminals, even more graphically, show the head of a deceased man, with half the image eaten away from decay. Such images served as reminders that life is fleeting and that leading a virtuous life as a faithful Christian is key to salvation.
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Medium:Ivory, silver, and partially gilded mounts
Dimensions:Overall: 24 11/16 x 2 1/8 x 1 3/4 in. (62.7 x 5.4 x 4.5 cm) Top Terminal: 1 5/8 x 1 5/16 x 1 1/2 in. (4.2 x 3.4 x 3.8 cm) 2nd bead: 2 1/16 x 1 11/16 x 1 in. (5.2 x 4.3 x 2.6 cm) 3rd bead: 2 3/16 x 1 7/8 x 11/16 in. (5.6 x 4.7 x 1.7 cm) 4th bead: 2 5/16 x 1 15/16 x 1 in. (5.8 x 4.9 x 2.6 cm) 5th bead: 2 9/16 x 2 x 1 1/16 in. (6.5 x 5.1 x 2.7 cm) 6th bead: 2 1/2 x 1 13/16 x 7/8 in. (6.3 x 4.6 x 2.2 cm) 7th bead: 2 3/4 x 2 1/8 x 1 in. (7 x 5.4 x 2.5 cm) Bottom Terminal: 2 1/16 x 1 7/16 x 1 15/16 in. (5.2 x 3.6 x 5 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Inscription: (on third bead): COGITA . / . MORI (think of death) (on sixth bead): [backwards S]V . e VOT[IS] / . ERI[backwards S] (you will be of prayer itself)
Laurentine Françoise Bernage Lelong ; [Lelong sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris (December 8–10, 1902, no. 68)]; [ Charles Davies, London (sold 1903)]; J. Pierpont Morgan (American), London and New York (1903–1913); Estate of J. Pierpont Morgan(1913–1917)
Brooklyn. Brooklyn Museum. "Out of the East," April 3, 1950–June 6, 1950.
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. "Europe in Torment: 1450-1550," March 7–April 7, 1974.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Incisive Images: Ivory and Boxwood Carvings, 1450–1800," March 13–November 25, 2007.
New York. Rubin Museum of Art. "Remember That You Will Die: Death Across Cultures," March 19, 2009–August 9, 2010.
New York. The Cloisters Museum & Gardens, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Treasures and Talismans: Rings from the Griffin Collection," May 1–October 18, 2015.
Brunswick, Me. Bowdoin College Museum of Art. "The Ivory Mirror: The Art of Mortality in Renaissance Europe," June 24–November 26, 2017.
Catalogue des objets d'art et de haute curiosité de l'antiquité [...] dépendant des collections de Mme. C. Lelong. Paris: Galerie Georges Petit, December 8–10, 1902. no. 68, p. 27, ill. p. 26.
"La Saison de l'Hotel Drouot." L'Art: Revue Mensuelle Illustrée 61 (1902). p. 708, ill.
Weber, Frederick Parkes. Aspects of Death and Correlated Aspects of Life in Art, Epigram, and Poetry: Contributions Towards an Anthology and an Iconography of the Subject. 3rd ed. New York: Paul B. Hoeber, 1918. pp. 714–15.
Europe in Torment, 1450–1550. Providence: Brown University, 1974. no. 47, pp. 118–19.
Levin, William R., ed. Images of Love and Death in Late Medieval and Renaissance Art. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1975. no. 83, p. 117, pl. LXIII.
Lowden, John, and John Cherry. Medieval Ivories and Works of Art: The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario Catalogue. Ontario: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2008. p. 132.
Williamson, Paul, and Glyn Davies. Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200–1550. Vol. 1. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2014. p. 474, fig. 1.
Scholten, Frits. "Scale, Prayer and Play." In Small Wonders: Late-Gothic Boxwood Micro-Carvings from the Low Countries, edited by Frits Scholten. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2016. pp. 200–201, fig. 102.
Perkinson, Stephen. The Ivory Mirror : The Art of Mortality in Renaissance Europe. Brunswick, Maine: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 2017. pp. 50–52, fig. 15a, 15b, pl. 26, ill. p. 2.
Bolton, Andrew, ed. Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Vol. 2. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018. p. 272.
Ciseri, Ilaria, ed. Gli avori del Museo nazionale del Bargello. Milan: Museo Nazionale del Bargello, 2018. pp. 234, 379.
C. Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, discusses the meaning behind two fascinating rings in the exhibition Treasures and Talismans: Rings from the Griffin Collection and reveals their hidden details.
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