"It was a figure of Father Time"

Rotunda clock (1896)
Public DomainRotunda clock (1896) - Credit: John Flanagan
Father Time is a figure drawn together from many mythologies and roots.  He is usually depicted as an elderly man in a long cloak, often carrying a scythe and an hourglass.  The skull in Ma Nelson's version associates him still more closely with the figure of death, and suggests a view of time as the inevitable destroyer of life.

The Rotunda Clock at the Library of Congress Building in Washington DC, created by John Flanagan, depicts a central figure of Father Time with a scythe and hourglass.  He is flanked by mythological and Zodiacal figures, and students deep in books.