Vignettes of Death

Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death

In this old public domain edition of Dance of DeathHans Holbein renders scenes of Death and how the personification interacts with the living.  The printmaker starts with scenes from the Book of Genesis, but Death does not show up until after God expels Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.  As they leave, Death makes his début wielding a musical instrument.  The being stays in the back and resembling a shadow over the two first humans.  Furthermore, Death does this in nearly all the images.  Always looming over the mortals, especially those in power.  It acts as an assistant to popes, kings, and judges.  In fact, Death takes on a mocking visage.  Wearing hats and imitating human activity, the skeletal being shows that it all means nothing.

  However, Death does not show up in The Last Judgment print.  To act as a verbal accompaniment, this edition uses Bible quotes.  While Holbein does not have the depth of Durer or the razor wit of Hogarth, he does make enjoyable work.

ETA: I realized I forgot to add links that could expand upon the history of this book.  My mistake.

Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death

The history presented by La Moret Danse Art

For those who want english translations that explains each photo.

The Catholic Encyclopedia’s take on the Book


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