How did our ancestors die? Whereas in our own day the subject of death is usually avoided, in pre-Industrial England the rituals and processes of death were present and immediate. People not only surrounded themselves with memento mori, they also sought to keep alive memories of those who had gone before. This continual confrontation with death was enhanced by a rich culture of visual artefacts. In "The Art of Death", Nigel Llewellyn explores the meanings behind an astonishing range of these artefacts, and describes the attitudes and practices which lay behind their production and use. Illustrated and explained in this book are an array of little-known objects and images such as death's head spoons, jewels and swords, mourning-rings and fans, wax effigies, church monuments, Dance of Death prints, funeral invitations and ephemera, as well as works by well-known artists, including Holbein, Hogarth and Blake.
Nigel Llewellyn is Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Sussex.