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:
Not on view
Rendered in virtuoso detail, these rosary beads juxtapose images of life and death. The inscriptions on two beads of the ivory chain combine to say, "Remember death/This is what you will be." The boxwood bead opens to reveal Death appearing unannounced at a meal beneath an image of the Last Judgment in the upper hemisphere. The Latin inscription reads, "Stay awake, for you do not know at which hour your Lord will come" (Matthew 24:42).
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.

Related Objects

Rosary Bead with the Crucifixion and Resurrection

Artist: Date: ca. 1500–1525
Accession Number: 17.190.304
Date: ca. 1500–1525 Medium: Ivory, polychromy, silver-gilt mount Accession: 17.190.304 On view in:Gallery 626

Rosary Terminal Bead with the Virgin and Child, Saint Barbara, and Saint Catherine

Artist: Date: 15th century
Accession Number: 14.25.1250
Date: 15th century Medium: Ivory Accession: 14.25.1250 On view in:Gallery 306


Artist: Attributed to Hans Greiff (German, active ca. 1470–died 1516 Ingolstadt) Date: 15th–16th century Medium: Horn, gilded silver mounts and cover Accession: 17.190.496a, b On view in:Gallery 306

Half of a Prayer Bead with the Crucifixion

Artist: Date: early 16th century
Accession Number: 17.190.473b
Date: early 16th century Medium: Boxwood Accession: 17.190.473b On view in:Gallery 306

Pendant with St. George and The Dragon

Artist: Date: ca. 1470
Accession Number: 1974.191.2
Date: ca. 1470 Medium: Silver, parcel gilt Accession: 1974.191.2 On view in:Gallery 306