Memento Mori is a Latin phrase meaning ‘Remember that you must die’. Art works relating to Memento Mori use themes and symbolism that aim to remind people of their mortality and the fragile, fleeting nature of life itself. The most common imagery will include a skull or skeleton although other typical symbols include clocks, hourglasses and extinguished candles used to emphasise that all lives eventually come to an end and time is constantly running out.
The style was prevalent during the seventeenth century when religion was particularly strong and most people believed that life on earth was just preparation for the afterlife. However, the theme has been frequently re-visited in Art throughout the subsequent centuries. For more information, see our article on Momento Mori and Vanitas Paintings.