Jacques-Antony Chovin

Chovin: The ossuary with ivy
Chovin: The ossuary
Frontispiece from 1744
Chovin: frontispiece

Jacques-Antony Chovin (1720-1776) copied Merian's copperplates. His plates were published from 1744 to 1830.

Chovin has decorated some of the scenes according to temporary fashion: The ossuary (to the left) is covered with ivy, and there are picturesque ruins in the background of mayor and Jew. On the other hand, Chovin has removed all animals (except for the serpent) and birds from Adam and Eve.

The issues were bilingual right from the beginning: All of the edifying writings from Merian's book were included in a German and a French version. The German verses were very freely translated into baroque French verses, that according to the translator's whim were four, six and eight lines.

Bilingual version by Birmann & Sons, ca. 1825
Chovin: The queen
Frontispiece from Birmann & Sons, ca. 1825
Chovin: frontispiece

In the 19th century, the edifying sermons were dropped and the baroque French translation was replaced by a more sober one with four lines per verse. The picture to the left is a book published by Birmann & Sons. Most of these publications are without year, but the copy in Google Books has a handwritten note that it was presented by the editor in 1825: »donné par le Editeur 18e. Août 1825«.

Later Chovin's engravings were published by J. L. Fuchs & co., and by then the book had become trilingual: An English translation had been added, and the book's introduction was written in German, French and English.

This is the same translation we later meet in the publications from Beck and Stuckert/Schneider (although I have to add the caveat that since most of these publications are without year, it can be hard to determine which issue came first).

I have placed these translations under each dancer.

The 1744-edition

Chovin, Basel's dance of death, title page
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death
Chovin, Basel's dance of death

Resources

Chovin's work is available several places on the Net. Here are some:

The 1789 edition is available from no less than 5 places on the Net.

The etchings are by Chovin, even though Merian's name is on the front page. The book contains Merian's original preface from 1649 (can also be read here), and various edifying sermons, poems and a description of Basel — all of which is presented in German as well as in French.

Illustration from Chovin's book

Chovin 1789
Chovin 1744: Chovin 1789
Preacher
Chovin 1744: Preacher
Ossuary
Chovin 1744: Ossuary
Pope
Chovin 1744: Pope
Emperor
Chovin 1744: Emperor
Empress
Chovin 1744: Empress
King
Chovin 1744: King
Queen
Chovin 1744: Queen
Cardinal
Chovin 1744: Cardinal
Bishop
Chovin 1744: Bishop
Duke
Chovin 1744: Duke
Duchess
Chovin 1744: Duchess
Count
Chovin 1744: Count
Abbot
Chovin 1744: Abbot
Knight
Chovin 1744: Knight
Lawyer
Chovin 1744: Lawyer
Senator
Chovin 1744: Senator
Canon
Chovin 1744: Canon
Physician
Chovin 1744: Physician
Nobleman
Chovin 1744: Nobleman
Noblewoman
Chovin 1744: Noblewoman
Merchant
Chovin 1744: Merchant
Abbess
Chovin 1744: Abbess
Cripple
Chovin 1744: Cripple
Hermit
Chovin 1744: Hermit
Young man
Chovin 1744: Young man
Usurer
Chovin 1744: Usurer
Young woman
Chovin 1744: Young woman
Musician
Chovin 1744: Musician
Herald
Chovin 1744: Herald
Mayor
Chovin 1744: Mayor
Executioner
Chovin 1744: Executioner
Fool
Chovin 1744: Fool
Merchant
Chovin 1744: Merchant
Blind man
Chovin 1744: Blind man
Jew
Chovin 1744: Jew
Heathen
Chovin 1744: Heathen
Heathen woman
Chovin 1744: Heathen woman
Cook
Chovin 1744: Cook
Peasant
Chovin 1744: Peasant
Painter
Chovin 1744: Painter
Mother and child
Chovin 1744: Mother and child
Adam and Eve
Chovin 1744: Adam and Eve
Double portrait
Chovin 1744: Double portrait

In this Section about Basel


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