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Richard Harris Art Collection



Some Terminology which will help a better understanding of Richard Harris Collection and Exhibitions and about Macabre Art in general. However,  if you are already into the theme of Morbid Art, you would probably be aware of these. So skip this section!! This post is particularly meant for those who are not much into this theme of  Macabre- Morbid Art.


Memento Mori


Grim Reaper

Dance of Death / Danse Macabre
Also see the Triumph of Death, and Death and the Maiden.

Day of the Dead / Día de los Muertos

Chitipati Dancers



Adrian van Utrecht - Vanitas Still Life with a Bouquet and a Skull

Adrian van Utrecht – Vanitas Still Life with a Bouquet and a Skull



The theme of Vanitas was popular in European painting during the Baroque Era of the 17th century. Vanitas refers to vanity, the condition of a beautiful external appearance that is lacking in substance. In Christian terms, the body and the pleasures of the world were empty and valueless, while the soul, which lasts forever, was truly beautiful and valuable. Works of art from this time period contain beautiful details whose symbolic meaning are reminders of the hollowness of this world in the fact of death.  Taken from a quote in the Latin version of the Christian Bible: “vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas”, usually translated into English as “vanity of vanities, all is vanity”.

A very good read on Vanitas Art can be found here.. click here..



Memento Mori - Artist Unknown

Memento Mori – Artist Unknown



 Wikipedia informs.. [click here..]  Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as “Remember your mortality”, “Remember you must die” or “Remember you will die”.  It refers to a genre of artworks that vary widely but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their mortality, an artistic theme dating back to antiquity.

The concept of Memento Mori functions as a reminder that death is imminent. In Christian belief, this life serves only as a perparation for more important eternal life which will follow death. In Renaissance and Baroque Art, a skeleton or a skull depicted alongside a youthful or beautiful figure aerves as a visual reminder of this truth.







A cabinet of curiosities / A cabinet of wonders..
Kunstkammer was an early form of museum: part art gallery, part study room. The tradition began in Europe during the Renaissance era, as rulers, aristrocrats and successful members of the merchant class collected and displayed arts and artifacts from different cultures, continents and time-periods together in one cabinet or room. These collections were educational and enhanced the collectors’ social status, as the objects symbolized the owner’s knowledge, wealth and power.



James Ensor - Death Chasing the Flock of Humans

James Ensor – Death Chasing the Flock of Humans



Grim Reaper is a personification of Death as a sentient.  According to Wikipedia click here.., In English, Death is often given the name Grim Reaper and, from the 15th century onwards, came to be shown as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe and [often] clothed in a black cloak with a hood. It is also given the name of the Angel of Death (Malach HaMavet) or Devil of Death or the angel of dark and light.

In Hellenic [Ancient Greece], Death not represented as purely evil. He is often portrayed as a bearded and winged man, but has also been portrayed as a young boy. Death, or Thanatos,  is the counterpart of life, death being represented as male, and life as female. He is the twin brother of Hypos, the god of sleep. In Celtic Folklore,  Ankou is a death omen that collects the souls of the deceased.  Ankou is described as a tall, haggard figure with long white hair. In Norwegian Folklore, Death is  a woman known by the name of Pesta, carrying a rake or a broom. In Hindu scriptures, the lord of death is called Yama, or Yamaraj (literally “the lord of death”). Yamaraj rides a black buffalo  and carries a rope lasso to carry the soul back to his home,  Yamalok.



Dance of Death Figures – Unknown [German

Dance of Death Figures – Unknown [German]


Dance of Death imagery presents the eternal truth that death eventually comes for everyone. Portrayed by a skeletal figure, death arrives to lead the unsuspecting to their destiny. No one can refuse a dance with death; men and women, powerful and humble, rich and poor – all participate. Large compositions depicting this theme may include dozens of people dancing with death,  while smaller formats often show  dance between a skeleton and a person.

Dance of Death is  variously called Danse Macabre (French), Danza Macabra (Italian), Totentanz (German), Danza de la Muerte (Spanish), is an artistic genre which most probably developed in France,  click here..   It is about the universality of death: the Dance of Death unites all.  In the Middle-Ages, the Dance of Death was thought as a warning for powerful men, a comfort to the poor, and ultimately an invitation to lead a responsible and christian life. But its basic idea is even more simpler,  more timeless: to recall the shortness of life.  It makes men remember that they all will die, without exception.

Related themes are “The Triumph of Death” and “Death and the Maiden”..

The Triumph of Death..   Here, Death  represented by a skeleton;  is not  shown dancing, but rather in a furious combat with the living.  The end of the fight is obvious, Death is always triumphant… click here..

Death and the Maiden.   Here we see an  intense, intimate and sometimes erotic relationship between the skeletal death and the maiden. It is a reminder of life’s brevity and the dangers of vanity. One popular name associated with this is of German painter and printmaker Hans Baldung Grien. click here..


Day of the Dead alter

Day of the Dead alter


DAY of the DEAD..

Spanish: Día de los Muertos .. is celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.

Much more information on Day of the Dead, can be found here.. click here..



Chitipati dancers

Chitipati dancers



The Chitipatis are two dancing skeletons  with interlaced  arms and legs. The are considered to be masters of the cemetery.  The  Citipati are one of the seventy-five forms of Mahakala and are visible reminders of the impermanence of everything worldly. Their mouths are parted in a large grin, showing all their teeth. Each wears a long scarf.  In Tibetan art and dance, Chitipati are joyous and even comic figures, who express freedom from attachments.




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