Art/ Collection/ Art Object


ca. 1500–1525
Ivory, silver, and partially gilded mounts
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
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 306
Each of the memento mori beads at the ends shows a human face on one side (apparently that of a monk) that is stripped of its flesh on the other. Some of the medallion beads seem to express the same notion, showing a fashionably dressed figure on one side and a skeleton on the other. Some have images of the living on both sides; while they are related in form and iconography, they appear to be by different hands. Similar memento mori beads and medallions are known, but such a long strand is rare.
Inscription: COGITA MORI (on one bead)
SVE.VOT.ERIS (on second bead from bottom)
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.

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.

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.

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