Memento mori

A memento mori (latin: remember that you must die) is a object or pictorial symbol associated with death. Such symbols include skulls, bones, coffins, urns, angel of death, upside-down torches, graves and ravens, cypresses, weeping willows, tuberoses, parsley, and many more.  The images of death are the true and proper mirror by which one must … Read more

Death and the maiden

In many dances of Death already figured a representation of Death with a fine lady or with a beautiful virgin. The image of a young woman was also found in the three ages and Death. However in both cases, there was no trace of erotism. This old vision will take a new form at the … Read more

Triumph of Death

In Italy besides the traditional dance of death we find spectacular representations of death as the all-conqueror in the so-called “Trionfo della Morte”. The earliest traces of this conception may be found in Dante and Petrarch. According to Ariès, Death as “the common tyrant,” and triumphing conqueror, was “a symbol of blind fate”, very different, … Read more

Dance of Death

Aka: Danse macabre, Danza macabra, Todtentanz The French term Danse Macabre may derive from the Latin Chorea Machabæorum, literally “dance of the Maccabees.” A favorite medieval theme, connected with the view of the world as mere vanity, was the leveling of all social classes and ranks in death, with the latter aptly personified as the … Read more


Another notable genre of art associated with memento mori is the Vanitas ou vanité (French) (Latin for ‘vanity’), which focuses on still-life works, containing various symbolic objects that are meant to remind the viewer of their mortality, and emphasize the worthlessness of worldly pleasures. Such works of art often contain traditional memento mori symbols, such … Read more

The fashion of death

Death helps sell, the fascination for death added to the usual censure by media on the subject make it a fine advertising incentive. In 1992, nearly one million packs of the “Death” brand of cigarettes were sold in the United States. According to Greg Palmer (Death: The Trip of a Lifetime, 1993), cigarette sales actually … Read more

History of death and art

A major tradition in the study of death across cultures and time has been to demarcate distinctive death time periods in Western history. The most notable illustration is Philippe Ariès’s The Hour of Our Death, which propose an evolutionary model, in which death through several successive stages reverted from the tame to the savage state … Read more