This week the fantastic Wellcome Library in London announced that they’re releasing more than 100,000 images for Creative Commons use. While many Atlas Obscura readers may be familiar with the Wellcome Collection, that fascinating museum of curiosities and medical history, its sister institution the Wellcome Library has just as much intriguing material. The thousands of high-resolution images include books, illustrations, art, and even objects.
Our favorite finds from browsing were these two memento mori figures from 1800, one a gentleman, the other a lady, each with their skeleton exposed. This form of art where half of a figure would be living, the other half rotting, was a common motif to remind viewers of their own mortality and to seize the day (and perhaps repent before Judgement Day). However, these two are special in the genteel grotesqueness of their forms. We recommend making your own discoveries on Wellcome Images, but be warned, it’s a history rabbit hole that can engulf even the most jaded of erudite minds.
Explore more of the strange, beautiful, and macabre at Wellcome Images.