The Duchess

The Duchess
Basel's dance of death, The duchess

Todt zur Hertzogin:
FRaw Hertzogin sind wolgemut,
   Ob jhr schon sind vom Edlen Blut,
Hochgeachtet auff dieser Erd,
   Hab ich euch dennoch lieb vnd werth.

Death to The Duchess
Mrs. Duchess, be in good spirits.
Even though you are of noble blood,
highly esteemed on this earth,
you are still dear and precious to me.

Die Hertzogin:
ACh GOtt der armen Lauten Thon,
   Muß ich mit dem Grewling darvon,
Heut Hertzogin vnd nimmermeh,
   Ach Angst vnd Noth, O weh O weh.

The Duchess.
Alas God, the tone of the poor lute.
Must I go away with this terrible creature?
Today duchess, and never more.
Alas, terror and distress, oh woe, oh woe.
Fragment of original
Fragment, Duchess
Illustration from Die Baseler Todtentänze in getreuen Abbildungen.
Massmann, Duchess

In this position there was originally a bishop, but the bishop has taken the archbishop's place, thus reducing the number of clerical participants and making room for one more woman in the dance. See this comparison of the two dances.

At the museum in Basel there's still a fragment of this painting (picture to the left). The fragment (and the illustration to the right) makes it clear that what looks like a long necklace her chest are in reality her braided "pigtails".

Büchel, Duchess
Büchel, Duchess

Büchel's watercolor from 1773 is slightly different: The guitar neck is not bended.

English translation from Beck, 1852
Death to the Duchess.The Duchess' reply.

All hail! my lady Duchess fine,
Altho' you're of a noble line,
And high respect have long had here
Yet still to me you're not less dear.

My poor lute's well known sound I know,
Heavens! with this monster must I go?
Short time I've been a Duchess gay,
And now must die! Oh! lack a day!

Translation from Hess, 1841
Death to the Dutchess.Answer of the Dutchess.

Lady dutchess by good cheer'd!
Though you are of noble bree'd,
High esteem'd upon this earth,
To me you are dear and worth.

Ah god! the poor sounds of the lute,
Must I with this horrid man dispute,
Dutchess to day now no more so,
O anguish, o grief! o woe, woe!


Various Artists

Merian (1621)
Merian 1621: Duchess
Chovin (1744)
Chovin 1744: Duchess
Büchel (1768)
Büchel 1768: Bishop
Büchel (1773)
Büchel 1773: Duchess
Fragment (1805)
Fragment 1805: Duchess
 1805: Memento Mori
 1805: Mirror
Feyerabend (1806)
Feyerabend 1806: Duchess
Hess (1841)
Hess 1841: Duchess
Massmann (1844)
Massmann 1844: Duchess
Beck (1852)
Beck 1852: Duchess
Stuckert (1858)
Stuckert 1858: Duchess