Holbein’s Dance of Death


A post for Día de los Muertos. The Internet Archive has several books reprinting the Dance of Death by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497–1543). These samples are from an 1892 edition. There’s also a complete copy of the very rare original printing, Les Simulachres & Historiees Faces De La Mort, Autant Elegamme[n]t Pourtraictes, Que Artificiellement Imaginées (1538), but the reproductions aren’t as good as the later copies. Later this month the Wellcome Collection in London hosts Death: A Self-portrait, an exhibition of memento mori and related art from the Richard Harris collection. They don’t say whether Holbein will be included but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t, these images of popes, kings and paupers being hauled to the grave by grinning skeletons have been reproduced endlessly. For an example of Holbein’s astonishing painting try his portrait of Charles de Solier.




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