275. An Ivory Memento Mori

France, 16th–17th century
Size: 5 cm high

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There is another version in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, but it represents a monk who seems a whole lot less anguished by his condition, sure of a place reserved among the Heavenly Host. In this example the skin-and-flesh right side is the spookiest, because he is clearly aware of what is happening on the left side, and therefore what awaits him. In the meantime there are weird creepy-crawlies on his skull and at his lip, which suggest it won’t be long. His hair has a rakish look, which implies he has not been assiduous in attending Confession, hence the despair evident in the right eye.