Lindenwood with traces of pigment, spruce base
12 1/8 x 11 1/2 in. (30.8 x 29.2 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.729)
Carved images of death were cherished items in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century collectors' cabinets. Most were of wood, though ivory versions are known. They relate to the artistic preoccupation with death in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The naturalistic poses, gestures, and movement of drapery date this group to the mid-seventeenth century; indeed, the composition recalls an etching of 1663 by Stefano
della Bella. The skeleton has an elaborately hollowed-out torso and neck, and the tendons of his forearms and lower legs are similarly undercut.