- Museum number
Memento mori; coffin with ridged cover; carved in low relief with cruciform designs; opens to show two hinged leaves. One opens sideways and has carved on the inside devils with the damned and on the outside the saved souls beneath Christ seated in judgement. The inner leaf opens downwards and has on the outside more damned figures and devils, and opens to reveal within the cavity a naked chained figure of a man against a background of flames. He has a finger to his lips. Inside the open leaf is a scroll with inscription in Latin in black letters and initial letters in red.
- Production date
- 1500-1530 (circa)
Height: 1.60 centimetres (closed)
Height: 4 centimetres (inner leaf open)
Height: 2.30 centimetres (sides open)
Length: 5.80 centimetres (closed)
Length: 10 centimetres (inner leaf open)
Weight: 8 grammes
Width: 2.10 centimetres (closed)
Width: 3.90 centimetres (sides open)
- Curator's comments
- Provenance: Baron Anselm von Rothschild, Vienna, between 1866 and 1872 (cat no. 491)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a similar example (c.1500, inv. no. 1985.136) which depicts the parable of the rich man who refused charity to Lazarus. Another comparative coffin memento mori is in the Louvre (inv. no. OA 5614). This does not feature the flap with inscription that the other two examples have, but the scenes inside the coffin can be flipped over by turning a device on the side of the object. The Louvre example was formerly in the collection of Baron Adolphe de Rothschild.
there is another example in the Wernher Collection in London, inv.685. For all three examples cited here see Frits Scholten, ed. Small Wonders, Amsterdam 2016, cats.56-58 and p,43 in which no reference is made to this example.
Bibliography: Charles Hercules Read, 'The Waddesdon Bequest: Catalogue of the Works of Art bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, M.P., 1898', London, 1902, no. 240; O.M. Dalton, 'The Waddesdon Bequest', 2nd edn (rev), British Museum, London, 1927, no.240, D.Thornton, "The boxwood tabernacle as a devotional toy", P.Shirley and D.Thornton eds., The Waddesdon Bequest, a new look, London 2017, pp. 113-115..
- Bibliographic references
Read 1902 / The Waddesdon Bequest. Catalogue of the Works of Art Bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, M.P., 1898 (240)
Dalton 1927 / The Waddesdon Bequest : jewels, plate, and other works of art bequeathed by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild. (240)
Shirley and Thornton 2017 / A Rothschild Renaissance: A New Look at the Waddesdon Bequest in the British Museum (p.109, p.114, fig.158, p.113-114, p.115, fig.160-161, p.119)
Awais-Dean 2017 / Bejewelled: Men and Jewellery in Tudor and Jacobean England (p.113, p.147)
- On display (G2a/dc15)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This collection is known as the Waddesdon Bequest under the terms of Baron Ferdinand Rothschild’s will.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number