This remarkable shield formed by scrolls and volutes, which contains inside a skull with a crown of flowers, had to be part of the decoration of a funerary monument.From the iconographic point of view, it is an allegory of the transience of life, represented by the "Memento mori" ("Remember that you will die"). The skull is also an attribute of melancholy and, when wearing a laurel wreath, it means that virtue and fame will survive death. The human skull, represented realistically, is often part of the Renaissance and Baroque decorative repertoire. From the end of the 16th century, from the Council of Trent, and throughout the 17th century, it was one of the themes of Christian meditation, at the foot of the cross in the scenes of Calvary, and becoming an instrument of piety , as can be seen in the representations of penitent San Jerónimo, San Francisco de Asís, or María Magdalena in the desert.
In the funerary monuments, the skull was a frequent element that can be located in different places: at the base of the architectural structure, under the epitaph, or at the foot or on the sides of the catafalque and, frequently, in the upper central part, in the place for the deceased's coat of arms.
The version presented here comes without a doubt from a mausoleum attached to the wall. With the hollows of the eyes and nose and the row of teeth, it shows the cruelest facet of death. The crown of flowers, however, provides a more positive vision, alluding to the future immortality of the soul. In this sense, it must be interpreted as an allegory of the good death, ars moriendi, Jesuit and mystical thought that defines death as an individual moment and a rite of passage, which allows the devotee to triumph. This may be the meaning of the flower garland that crowns the skull.