The Art of Darkness

Holbein’s Danse Macabre

August 19th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Holbein WoodcutThe University of Iowa’s John Martin Rare Book Room has just added Hans Holbien’s The dances of death through the various stages of human life: wherein the capriciousness of that tyrant is exhibited… to their online collection.

The Dance of Death, often referred to as “Danse Macabre” is a gruesome medieval and renaissance symbol of the all-encompassing and universal power of death. Originally a 14th century morality poem, written shortly after the plague of the 1340’s that wiped out a high proportion of the European populace, images of the allegory made their way into print shortly thereafter. The most famous of these was a series of wood cuts by the German artist and printmaker, Hans Holbein, the younger (1497-1543).

The university’s version is an 1803 republication of copperplates based on Holbein’s work, made by Scottish artist and engraver David Deuchar.

These are nice, high-quality scans which would be great for use in art projects. A decoupaged TV tray, end table, or folding screen would be lovely decorated with little dancing skeletons.

Link (via Morbid Anatomy)

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