London: Printed for J. Coxhead, 1816. Item #03778
"No Matter One's Station in Life, The Dance of Death Unites All"
Thirty-One Hand Colored Engraved Plates
By Wenceslaus Hollar
HOLBEIN, Hans. HOLLAR, Wenceslaus, illustrator. The Dance of Death; From the Original Designs of Hans Holbein. Illustrated with thirty-three plates, engraved by W. Hollar. With descriptions in English and French. London: Printed for J. Coxhead, 1816.
First edition thus. Octavo (8 1/4 x 5 1/8 inches; 209 x 130 mm.). [ii], -64, -70 pp. Two engraved portraits of Wenceslaus Hollar and Hans Holbein, and thirty-one hand-colored engraved plates by Wenceslaus Hollar.
Plates watermarked "J. Whatman 1818 & 1820"
Contemporary full green roan, covers decoratively bordered in gilt, spine elaborately tooled and lettered in gilt, gilt board edges, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. A near fine copy.
Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) originally published his Dance of Death illustrations in 1651 under the title "Mortalium Nobilitas"
The Dance of Death, also known as La Danse Macabre, is an artistic genre of late-medieval allegory
on the universality of death.
No matter one's station in life, the Dance of Death unites all. La Danse Macabre consists of the dead or personified Death summoning representatives from all walks of life to dance along to the grave, typically with a Pope, an Emperor, a King, a child, and a laborer. They were produced to remind people of the fragility of their lives and how vain were the glories of earthly life.
Its origins are postulated from illustrated sermon texts; the earliest recorded visual scheme was a now-lost mural in the Saints Innocents Cemetery in Paris dating from 1424 to 1425.