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Death: A Self-portrait

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  • Exhibition
Photograph of visitors exploring the exhibition, Death: A Self Portrait at Wellcome Collection.
Death: A Self Portrait exhibition, Dave Sayer. Source: Wellcome Collection. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

This exhibition showcased some 300 works from a unique collection devoted to the iconography of death and our complex attitudes towards it – diverse art works, historical artefacts, scientific specimens and ephemera from across the world.

Rare prints by Rembrandt, Dürer and Goya were displayed alongside anatomical drawings, war art and antique metamorphic postcards. Human remains were juxtaposed with Renaissance ‘vanitas’ paintings and 20th-century installations celebrating Mexico’s Day of the Dead. From a group of ancient Incan skulls to a spectacular chandelier made of 3,000 plaster-cast bones, this singular collection illuminated our enduring desire to make peace with death.