The Dance of Death, 1538 reprint, Book of Death Illustrations


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Item description

Paperback reproduction of the ‘Dance of Death’ book by Hans Holbein who was known for his extensive graphic works. The Dance of Death book was first published in 1538. This book measures 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches.

The theme of the dance of death was popular in the sixteenth century. Holbein captured the feeling of death, in its attack on all classes, sexes, and ages. Countess, nun, sailor, peddler, are all stopped by death. The skeleton snatches, tugs, and cavorts throughout the rest of the book. Forty-one finely cut, highly detailed woodcuts capture the single motif, Memento mori: “Remember, you will die.”

Along with the woodcuts, the book contains a letter by Jean de Vauzéle with quotations on the necessity of death. A repeated series of the 41 woodblocks follows the reprinted work and contains English translations. Art historians and social historians will find this to be one of the best depictions of life caught at its fateful moment.

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