Rosary

Date: ca. 1500–1525

Culture: German

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)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.306

Description

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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