Walker Artwork of the Month – November 2007


Walker Art Gallery – Artwork of the Month, November 2007. Mors Janua Vitae c1905-07 by Alfred Gilbert

This rather curious piece is a model for a tomb. The tomb was designed to hold the remains of the commissioner, Eliza Macloghlin, and her husband Percy, a provincial doctor. Their ashes were to be held in the casket clasped by the lifelike figures.

The title means ‘death, the door to life’ but not in a Christian sense; both were atheists and the symbolism shown is pagan. We see Anteros, representing selfless love, on the left lower panel and Eros, representing sexual love, on the right.

The bronze monument itself now stands in the Royal College of Surgeons in London, but it was this two-metre model that the sculptor, Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934), worked on. The painted plaster and wood provide the monument with its brilliant ghostly colour and fantastically rich detail.

This piece can be seen in the Walker Art Gallery. Learn more about the Walker Art Gallery’s collections.

There will be free talks about this artwork on November 6th and 21st 2007