About this artwork

This object is known as a type of anamorphic painting or a turning picture. The viewer is initially confronted by a distorted perspective caused by two images painted on alternate sides of vertical strips. The images - a young woman (previously thought to be Mary, Queen of Scots) and a skull - can only be seen in their true form from a single viewpoint. This suggests that the painting was probably created as a private momento mori – a reminder of death. The painting should be looked at from left to right to reveal the human head changing into a skull.

  • title:
    Anamorphosis, called Mary, Queen of Scots, 1542 - 1587. Reigned 1542 - 1567.
  • accession number:
    PG 1989
  • artist:
  • depicted:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Oil on panel
  • date created:
  • measurements:
    33.00 x 24.80 cm (framed: 41.50 x 34.10 x 5.50 cm)
  • credit line:
    Given by A.H. Mayor 1962
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve Antonia Reeve