Ape with Skull, by Hugo Rheinhold, c. 1893 CE.
Contemplating skulls as a meditation on mortality has a long history in European culture, most famously in Shakespeare’s Hamlet graveyard scene (“Alas, poor Yorick!”). Hugo Rheinhold’s chimp is a scientist, however, sitting on a book labeled “Darwin” and holding calipers to measure the human skull he holds. At his feet, a Bible is open to a torn page reading “Eritis sicut deus,” the first words of the serpent’s promise to Eve: if you eat the forbidden fruit, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” What message do you think this complex imagery is meant to convey?
via Wikimedia Commons.