Skeleton in Grotto, Germany, Presumably 18th century or earlier. Estimate € 2,000.00. Photo Auctionata.
Staghorn. Filigree carved miniature of a skeleton squatting in a grotto. In facetted and glazed box with embroidered blanket and net. Dimensions: 5.8 x 2.3 x 2 cm (height x width x depth); diameter of the case: 7 cm. Very good condition
The depiction of miniature skeletons of this sort, called ‘Tödlein’ (= death sculpture) or in old German ‘Tödtlein’, stands in the center of the life of a filigree-transcendental, life-outlasting beauty
The miniature of a skeleton squatting in a grotto is carved very finely of staghorn. It was crafted in Germany, presumably in the 18th century or earlier. The figure is embedded in a small facetted and glazed case with embroidered blanket and net. The depiction of miniature skeletons of this sort, called ‘Tödlein’ (= death sculpture) or in old German ‘Tödtlein’, stands in the center of the life of a filigree-transcendental, life-outlasting beauty.
‘Teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom’ (Psalm 90:12). Death is an outsider in our today’s society, an unloved marginal figure. We live in the belief of the idea that we could outwit nature and strive for eternal life. Clerical life had almost come to a standstill in the ‘dark Middle Ages’ (9th C.), which inside the church led to strive after asceticism and the cleaning of anything secular and ruinous. The result were also the foundation of many cloisters and was connected to a certain mysticism, which is still felt today in the walls of a cloister. The heaped appearance of the Black Death in the 14th and 15th century led again to an enforcement of the Memento Mori thought. Dances of the death, death sculptures, changing heads and skulls found entrance into the prayers and mediations about life and death. The confrontations with death and the consciousness of the transience of the earthly were supposed to animate a more god-fearing life.
Auctionata. Cabinet of Curiosities. Dec 9, 2014, 12 pm EST, Berlin