Todt zum Doctor:
Death to The Physician|
Mr. Physician, inspect the anatomy
on me, whether it's made right.
Because you have also executed many,
who now look exactly like I.
I have with my urine-inspecting(1)
helped both men and women.
Who inspects my water now?
I must now [go] away with Death.
This picture is the only one where Death is portrayed as a skeleton. The skeleton is relatively correctly rendered, which proves that it is a more recent addition. People in the Middle Ages simply didn't have that kind of anatomical knowledge (for an example, see Holbein's blunder).
If we look at the corresponding picture in Kleinbasel (to the left), Death is the same cadaver as the one that fetches everybody else in the dance. The text in Kleinbasel doesn't mention anything about "inspecting the anatomy".
When Kluber renovated the mural in 1568, it was 25 years since Andreas Vesalius had published his famous anatomy book De Humani Corporis Fabrica in Basel (picture to the right). It's apparent that Kluber has copied the image from this book.
But one thing is still not "made right in the anatomy". In spite of countless restorations and improvements, and in spite of Death being transformed from an emaciated cadaver to a skeleton, Death's right hand (the one that grabs the physician) is still a left hand — in both Klein- and Groß-Basel.
In Großbasel (above) Death has stolen the holster for the urine glass, while the physician has dropped the glass, which lies in the right side of the picture.
|English translation from Beck, 1852|
|Death to the Doctor.||The Doctor's reply.|
Doctor! look at my skeleton
Thro' skill in water long renown'd
|Translation from Hess, 1841|
|Death to the Doctor.||Answer of the Doctor.|
Sir doctor behold the anatomy
I have with my viewing the water