Memento Mori is a genre of still life painting meant as a reminder of mortality. While its philosophical and religious underpinnings harken to Roman antiquity, this theme in art gained popularity in 17th century Europe and continues to inspire contemporary artists today. Pablo Picasso Picasso's 1945 painting, Poireaux, crâne et pichet [Still life - Skull with leeks] is a noted modernist interpretation of the memento mori that also served as a personal meditation on war. (Christie's London, 3 February 2003, lot 82).
Pictorial representations of a skull amidst symbols of books and globes denote worldly yet transitory pleasures. Further symbols may include hourglasses, ripening fruit and flowers, or melting candles. See The Demonic Line: An Exhibition of Drawings, 1940-1964 by Francis Newton Souza, Y. Dalmia, curator, Delhi Art Gallery, 2000, p. 32, for a similarly executed drawing also dated to 1959.