Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    A skull (memento mori) balancing on a recessed ledge. Chiaroscuro woodcut

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1586-1610
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 281 millimetres
    • Width: 337 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered above 'Memorare novissima tua, et in aeternitate non peccabis. Eccle[siastes] vii' and Andreani's monogram 'AA' at left.
  • Curator's comments

    (Text from Michael Bury, 'The Print in Italy 1550-1620', London, 2001, cat.26)
    This chiaroscuro woodcut was intended to function as a memento mori. The inscription reads: 'remember the end that awaits you and you will never sin' (This is part of verse 40 of Ecclesiasticus VII). It shows very clearly the character and technical qualities of the medium. A line block was used for the outlines and modelling. There is a mid-tone in light green, with areas removed for the highlights, produced by the white of the paper. And finally there is a darker green and a light brown to create intermediate tones. The four blocks would have been printed in succession, the line block last of all (Vasari, 1906, I, pp.212-13).
    This kind of chiaroscuro print was often the object of criticism in the earlier part of the last century on the grounds that it did not conform to the loose pictorial mode developed for the medium by Ugo da Carpi earlier in the sixteenth century (see Pittaluga, 1930, p.253). Andreani adopted a relatively more disciplined approach in which forms are defined by clear contours. There are always problems of registration in such multi-block prints, when each successive block has to be printed in the right place relative to the others. However the overlaps may not have been totally unwelcome, for they give a certain freshness to the result.


  • Bibliography

    • Bartsch XII.156.28 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Italian XVIc Mounted Roy)

  • Exhibition history

    2001/2 Sep-Jan, BM, P&D, The Print in Italy 1550-1620
    2002 Feb-Mar, New York, Miriam & Ira D Wallach AG, The Print in Italy
    2002/3 Sep-Jan, Ottawa, NG of Canada, The Print in Italy 1550-1620
    2003 Feb-Apr, Edinburgh, NG of Scotland, The Print in Italy 1550-1620

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


A skull (memento mori) balancing on a recessed ledge. Chiaroscuro woodcut

A skull (memento mori) balancing on a recessed ledge. Chiaroscuro woodcut

Image description



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: PPA67477

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help