Face or Skull?

21st November 2016

This late medieval ‘memento mori’ rosary bead (a devotional object reminding a person of their own mortality)  may be dated broadly to the mid-late 15th to early 16th century.

The headgear is suggestive of a Low Countries origin, perhaps 15th or  early 16th century (pre-Reformation). There are several examples of Netherlands and Flemish portraits of this period which depict similar carved devotional objects.

A similar bead is on display at the Museum of London and other examples are held by the Victoria and Albert Museum.