Et in Arcadia Ego
© Estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay

Reference URL

  • Scottish Art
This carved stone sculpture refers to a famous painting of the same name by the seventeenth-century French painter Nicholas Poussin, which shows a group of shepherds looking at an inscription on a tomb in a pastoral setting. The title is a ‘memento mori’ in Latin which can be translated as ‘I am also in Arcadia’, as if spoken by the personification of Death. Just as Poussin hints that even in an idyll death is present, so Finlay uses the image of modern warfare to remind us of the way we invade the world of nature with our weapons. The hills and trees can be found in the Poussin painting and although the tomb has become a tank made of bricks it is nonetheless a powerful symbol of death.

Glossary Open

Inscription

Text written on a book, document or artwork. Examples include the added information such as edition number and date on a print, or a dedication written in a book.

Memento Mori

A work of art containing an object which reminds the viewer of their own mortality. It is a Latin phrase which can be translated as ‘remember you must die.’

Inscription, Memento Mori

Details

  • Acc. No. GMA 1583
  • Medium Stone
  • Size 28.10 x 28.00 x 7.60 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1976