Death: A self-portrait
Thursday 15 November 2012 - Sunday 24 February 2013
Our major winter exhibition showcases some 300 works from
a unique collection devoted to the iconography of death and our
complex and contradictory attitudes towards it. Assembled by
Richard Harris, a former antique print dealer based in Chicago, the
collection is spectacularly diverse, including art works,
historical artefacts, scientific specimens and ephemera from across
the world. Rare prints by Rembrandt, Dürer
and Goya will be displayed alongside anatomical drawings, war art
and antique metamorphic postcards; human remains will be juxtaposed
with Renaissance vanitas paintings and twentieth century
installations celebrating Mexico’s Day of the Dead. From a group of
ancient Incan skulls, to a spectacular chandelier made of 3000
plaster-cast bones by British artist Jodie Carey, this singular
collection, by turns disturbing, macabre and moving, opens a window
upon our enduring desire to make peace with death.
Explore objects and images from the exhibition.
In this interview, Richard Harris discusses how his collection of beautiful and unusual objects began with an interest in anatomy and grew from there. Hear about the breadth and depth of this remarkable collection from the collector himself.
A series of events accompanying 'Death: A self-portrait'.
Explore some of the objects from 'Death: A self-portrait' in depth and detail with our 360 degree zoomable images.
This timelapse film shows the installation of Jodie Carey's In the Eyes of Others in the gallery for 'Death: A self-portrait'. Carey's 13 foot high chandelier is made of 3,000 handcrafted plaster bones.
We asked visitors to 'Death: A self-portrait' and this website to tell us about objects that they associate with death. See the objects and their stories. You can also tell us about your own object of death.
Take a look inside the book that accompanies the exhibition.
Throughout the summer of 2012, Chrissie Giles spent time at a day hospice running a creative writing group. In a series of posts on the Wellcome Collection blog she reflects on her experiences there and showcases some of the writing produced by group members.
Learning resources to complement the exhibition.
Find out more about 'Mortal: A drama', a co-produced performance inspired by 'Death: A self-portrait'.