Medieval Death Sculptures Were Least Flattering Selfies Ever
Sculptors in England and Wales may have paid doctors for corpse models in order to carve full-body portraits of the wealthy, says scholar.
Paying an artist to sculpt a dead, emaciated, and nearly naked version of yourself sounds pretty bizarre; but that’s only because it’s out of fashion. According to Christina Welch, some wealthy individuals and families in the Late Middle Ages paid premium prices for carved cadaver selfies.
Sometimes people commissioned death sculptures of themselves while they were still alive; sometimes families has them made, either before or after a loved one's death.
Welch, a senior lecturer in religious studies at the University of Winchester, United Kingdom, has examined 41 of these sculptures, known as transi, in England and Wales. She’ll lecture on them Thursday evening at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn, New York; but first, she spoke to National