Huldrich Frölich, 1588

The heathen is one of the few pictures that actually show a scene from Basel. The heathen's wife appears on the same woodcut, which could then be used twice. The figures are laterally inversed. Notice that Death has breasts and veil.
Frölich, Hedning

Death with spade The first person to publish a copy of the tekst from Basel's dance of death was Huldreich (Ulrich) Frölich in the book Lobspruch An die Hochloblich unnd Weitberümpte Statt Basel, 1581.

Seven years later, in 1588, Frölich published another book solely about dances of death: »Zwen Todentäntz, deren der eine zu Bern dem andern Ort hochloblicher Eydtgenosschafft zu Sant Barfüßern, der ander aber zu Basel, dem neunten Ort gemelter Eydtgnosschafft auff S. Predigers Kirchhof mit Teutschen Versen, darzu auch die Lateinischen kommen, ordenlich sind verzeichnet Mit schönen und zu beyden Todentäntzen dienstlichen Figuren, allerley Standt und Völcker gebreuchliche Kleydung abbildende, gezieret. […]«.

As the title reveals, this book contained two dances of death, »Zwen Todentäntz«, i.e. from Bern and Basel, »Deren der eine zu Bern […] Der Ander aber zu Basel« — but in fact the book contained 4 dances of death, because Frölich had added a free translation of Basel's dance into Latin, »darzu auch die Lateinischen«, and he had included a series of "serviceable images", »schönen und zu beyden Todentäntzen dienstlichen Figuren«.

We'll take a cursory look at the Latin text when we get to the year 1608.

Georg Scharffenberg's signature with year
GS 1576
This woodcut tells us that the painter died in the year 1578.
Scharffenberg, Painter

The majority of the "serviceable" woodcuts were (bad) copies of Holbein's dance of death, and they are discussed on this page about Holbein and Georg Scharffenberg. Only a few of the woodcuts showed scenes from Basel, i.e. the heathen and his wife (together on one woodcut, which was used twice), the painter and his family (together on one woodcut, which was used twice), the cook and presumably Adam & Eve. The picture of the blind man is copied after Holbein, but Scharffenberg added the idea from Basel with Death cutting the leash to the guide dog. Three woodcuts are either free interpretations of the dance in Bern or free imagination.

Most of the woodcuts are signed GS, which is believed to stand for Georg Scharffenberg (ca. 1530 - ca. 1607) or possibly Gregor Sickinger. The woodcuts were already rather old when Frölich used them in 1588: One of them (picture to the left) bears the year 1576 — i.e. 12 years before »Zwen Todentäntz«.

The book is arranged in such a way that the greatest part follows the dance of death in Basel. However, the book starts with Adam & Eve in Paradise and the Expulsion, even though Adam & Eve finished the dance on the mural in Basel. And conversely Holbein's preacher was placed at the end of the book (this was fixed in the 1608-edition) to preach the texts from Isaiah and Daniel that introduces the dance of death in Basel.

The limited selection of woodcuts has presented Frölich with great challenges. Frölich turned Basel's "kirbepfeiffer" (i.e. market fair musician) into a "kirbekrämer", so that he could use the copy of Holbein's peddler twice. In the same way the hermit was illustrated with Holbein's old man, the young man with Holbein's nun (there wasn't any nun in Basel's dance of death anyway), and the mayor with Holbein's judge. In those cases where the Holbein-copies weren't appropriate he used "replacement pictures" — i.e. stock images of people and skeletons from older books.

Huldreich Frölich, 1588, Zwen Todentäntz
Huldreich Frölich, Zwen Todentäntz

The structure of the individual pages is, that the left-hand pages have the text from Basel and the Latin text, and the pagination is in Arabic numerals (see picture to the left). The woodcut is placed on the right-hand side, and in most cases along with the verses from Bern. If there is a text from Bern, the page number is written in Roman numerals, otherwise in Arabic numerals. The only exception is with the usurer, which doesn't appear in Bern, but nonetheless has the page number xlix.

The last part of the book are five Holbein-copies that Frölich had been unable to put into neither a Basel- nor a Bern-context. To these woodcuts were added an original text, and the heading on each page is "Concinnator" (originator) to indicate that Frölich had created them himself. The page numbers are in uppercase Roman numerals.

The resultat is very confusing. All in all the entire text from Bern has been reproduced, and the alert reader will be able to separate Basel, Bern and Frölich's own poems from each other by studying the page numbers, but Bern's verses are brought in a jumbled sequence, which the reader does not have a chance to figure out.

Frölich's mixture of oversize Holbein-copies and stock images also started the misunderstanding that lives to this day, i.e. that Holbein should have had anything to with the dance of death in Basel.

Zwen Todentäntz was Frölich's last work as a printer, but in 1608 he published Der Hochloblichen und Weitberümpten Statt Basel […] sampt des Todtentantzes Basels und Berns (printed by Sebastian Henricpetri).

Little Stock Images (that are not Copies of Holbein)

In every case, where I have been able to locate the image, it turns out to be a book published by Henricpetri.

Zwen Todentäntz: Senator
Cosmographey oder beschreibung aller Länder, 1567
Christian I

On the picture to the left Death holds a spade. I have been unable to find this image elsewhere.

The so-called "senator" on the other hand, was often used in Sebastian Münster's Cosmographei: oder beschreibung aller länder in all editions and all languages from 1550 and later — where he appears up to 7 times in each edition.

To the right is a coloured copy from 1567, where he's supposed to represent the Danish King Christian I.

Zwen Todentäntz: Beggar
Cosmographey oder beschreibung aller Länder, 1567

The picture of the beggar is among the oldest and it appears already in the first edition of Cosmographey in 1544. The beggar can be found in all editions of Cosmographey in all languages at least until 1598 (I haven't checked further).

The beggar can also be found in Konrad Lykosthenes' Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon from 1557 (pages 522 and 579) and Nikolaus Höniger's Hoffhaltung des Türckhischen Keysers vnd Othomañischen Reichs from 1578 (first part, page lxvii)

The strange part is that he originally used to have a rosary in his hand (picture to the right).

Cosmographiae uniuersalis, 1552.
Page 398, with rosary.
Cosmographiae uniuersalis, 1552.
Page 974, now without rosary

The beggar lost his rosary in 1552, and the really odd part is that this happened in the middle of a book. In Cosmographiae uniuersalis he holds a rosary on page 398, but has lost it on page 974 and has never found it again.

However you can still see the beads that cover his palm.

Zwen Todentäntz: Herold
Huldreich Frölich, 1581, Death
Frölich-1581, Death

I have been unable the locate the herald. The picture of Death (to the right) is the same one that Frölich had used already in 1581 and which earlier had been used in Erste Theil der Hoffhaltung Des Türckhischen Keysers and in Baszler Chronick.

Zwen Todentäntz: Executioner / bailiff
Cosmographiae universalis, 1545, page cclxxxii.

The picture of the executioner is also one of the very oldest, and appears from the start of Cosmographey in 1544. The image was typically used twice in each book: Partly to illustrate the "Grave Hartmann von Kyburg" and partly the "Marggrauen zu Schlesswick".

The image of the executioner/margrave only appears in editions of Cosmographey between 1544 and 1548. After this he disappears and in the various later editions four different images are used to illustrate the counts of Kyburg and Schlesswick. Among these are Frölich's "citizen" and "senator", and sometimes there is no picture at all.

This oddity might make you assume that the woodcut had perished, but this is evidently not the case, since Frölich was able to use it 40 years later in 1588.

One might wonder how Frölich could use the image of a highborn count to illustrate a lowly executioner. Frölich solves this problem by headlining the verse, "Der Todt zum Vogt". The executioner is a "Blutvogt" — a "blood bailiff — while a "Vogt" / bailiff is a high-ranking civil servant.

Zwen Todentäntz: Jew
Cosmographey oder beschreibung aller Länder, 1567

The picture of the Jew appears for the first time in Cosmographey in 1550 (same year as the senator). The picture was typically used three times in each book, illustrating events in Gallia, Bern and Rusach.

The Jew appears at least until 1598, but only in the German editions of Cosmographey. He is neither to be found in the Latin, French nor Italien editions.

The Jew is portrayed with the pointed hat that Jews were forced to wear in Muslim countries. On the coloured image to the right one clearly sees the yellow ring — "The Jewish badge of guilt which is their tragedy to wear".

The image of the Jew was also used in Nikolaus Höniger's Hoffhaltung des Türckhischen Keysers vnd Othomañischen Reichs from 1578 (first part, page lxxvi), where the author details the harsh treatment of Jews by the Turks. Apparently Jews fared even worse in Turkey than in Europe, if such a thing can be imagined.

Zwen Todentäntz: Turk
Hoffhaltung des türckhischen Keysers, 1596

For inscrutable reasons Frölich has dropped the portrait of the Turkish emperor Süleyman, the Magnificent, even though he is the person who presumably was portrayed on the mural.

Instead a more general stock image is employed from Hoffhaltung des türckhischen Keysers, 1578. This image was used up to 7 times in each edition of Hoffhaltung to illustrate all kinds of Turks. The picture is also found in Cosmographey from the year 1588 and later.

Zwen Todentäntz: Crusader
Cosmographey, 1552

In the first editions of Cosmographey there was a rather similar image of a crusader, which was laterally inversed. The picture to the right appears for the first time in 1552, and from that point on both crusaders were used for many years.

Zwen Todentäntz: Craftsman and citizen
Cosmographiae universalis, 1552

The craftsman appears in Cosmographiae universalis from 1552 and later editions, but oddly enough he is only employed in the Latin and French edition; not the German ones.

He also appears in Johannes Herold's Heydenweldt und irer Götter anfängcklicher Ursprung, 1554 (page xcix)

Cosmographei: oder beschreibung aller länder, 1550

The citizen starts — like the senator and the Jew — in 1550 and the image is used up to 5 times in each book.

He is also to be found in Niderlands Beschreibung, 1580 (page clxxi) and Konrad Lykosthenes' Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon from 1557 (page 623).

Zwen Todentäntz: Astrologer
Cosmographey: das ist, Beschreibung Aller Länder, 1598 (page dccccxlv)

There are five different astrologers in the different editions of Cosmographey, and this particular astrologer is first seen in Cosmographey, 1574.

He also appears in Nikolaus Höniger's Hoffhaltung des Türckhischen Keysers vnd Othomañischen Reichs from 1578 (first part, page ccxxi)

Zwen Todentäntz: Widow
Cosmographei, oder beschreibung aller länder, 1561. A wise woman.

The widow starts — like the senator, Jew and citizen — in 1550 and appears up to 4 times in each book. Among other things the woodcuts illustrates "a wise woman".

She also appears in Konrad Lykosthenes' Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon from 1557 (pages 236, 286 and 439), Johannes Herold's Heydenweldt und irer Götter anfängcklicher Ursprung, 1554 (page cl) and Nikolaus Höniger's Hoffhaltung des Türckhischen Keysers from 1578 and 1596.

Zwen Todentäntz: Harlot
Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon, 1557

The image of the harlot was found in Konrad Lykosthenes' Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon from 1557 (pages 344 and 568).

Zwen Todentäntz: Moses

I have not succeeded in finding the image of Moses with the Ten Commandments.

Zwen Todentäntz: The ossuary
Cosmographey oder beschreibung aller Länder, 1567

All the way back from 1544 there has been an alternative image of a churchyard.

This version of the ossuary that Frölich used in Zwen Todentäntz appeared in Cosmographey in 1550: The same year as the senator, Jew, citizen and widow.

This ossuary is supposed to be a famous one in Morat (German: Murten), where 10,000 Burgundians were killed in a single battle in 1476. However, the Morat ossuary didn't really look like this.

The pictures (mostly copied after Holbein)

Only three or four of the woodcuts seem to represent scenes from Basel. These are the Heathen and wife, the cook, the Family Kluber and maybe Adam and Eve.

Three others are so free interpretations, that it's hard to say what they are supposed to be copies of. These are the king, cardinal and maiden.

Six of the woodcuts were lost somewhere between Frölich's 1608-edition and the Mechel Family's edition in 1740.

Front page, 1740
Scharffenberg 1576: Front page, 1740
Front page, 1769
Scharffenberg 1649: Front page, 1769
Front page, 1796
Scharffenberg 1796: Front page, 1796
Front page, 1786
Scharffenberg 1576: Front page, 1786
The Fall
Scharffenberg 1576: The Fall
Scharffenberg 1576: Expulsion
The Pope
Scharffenberg 1576: The Pope
Scharffenberg 1576: Emperor
Scharffenberg 1576: Empress
Scharffenberg 1576: Queen
Scharffenberg 1576: Bishop
Scharffenberg 1576: Duke
Scharffenberg 1576: Abbot
Scharffenberg 1576: Abbess
Scharffenberg 1576: Canon
Scharffenberg 1576: Judge
Scharffenberg 1576: Senator
Scharffenberg 1576: Preacher
Scharffenberg 1576: Priest
Scharffenberg 1576: Monk
Scharffenberg 1576: Nun
Old woman
Scharffenberg 1576: Old woman
Scharffenberg 1576: Physician
Rich man
Scharffenberg 1576: Rich man
Scharffenberg 1576: Merchant
Scharffenberg 1576: Sailor
Scharffenberg 1576: Knight
Scharffenberg 1576: Count
Old man
Scharffenberg 1576: Old man
Scharffenberg 1576: Countess
Scharffenberg 1576: Noblewoman
Scharffenberg 1576: Peddler
Scharffenberg 1576: Peasant
Scharffenberg 1576: Child
Judgment Day
Scharffenberg 1576: Judgment Day
Scharffenberg 1576: Soldier
Scharffenberg 1576: Gambler
Scharffenberg 1576: Robber
Blind man
Scharffenberg 1576: Blind man
Scharffenberg 1576: Drunkard
Scharffenberg 1576: Fool
Scharffenberg 1576: Heathens
Scharffenberg 1576: Cook
Scharffenberg 1576: Painter
Scharffenberg 1576: King
Scharffenberg 1576: Cardinal
Scharffenberg 1576: Maid


Further information