Todt zum Koch:
Death to The Cook|
Come here, Hans Cook, you must away.
How fat you are, you can hardly walk.
Even if you have boiled much sweet candy,
it will go sour for you now. You must away.
I have cooked many chickens, geese and fish
for my master's table several times.
Wild-roast, pâté and marcipan.
Oh woe, my stomach. I must go away.
If we look at the picture of the cook in Klein-Basel, we see that the picture used to be far less dynamic: Death is standing and talking to a man with a large spoon.
Apparently the mural in Groß-Basel has been "spiffed up" during a renovation, probably by Kluber in 1568, who has looked at Holbein's woodcut of the abbot. Death holds the cook's skewer in the same way as the abbot's staff.
The picture of the cook in Basel has inspired the dance of death in Bleibach (picture to the left).
The cook is not spilling water out of his jug, he carries his dagger at the other side of his body, and Death and the cook stands further apart from each other. On Merian's picture one can see Death's leg between the cook's, on Büchel's picture one sees Death's heel.
If we then compare this with the coloured gouaches from ca. 1600 (picture to the right), we can see that Merian is right about the water running out of the jug, so the mural must have been changed in the 100 years separating Merian and Büchel
But concerning the composition with Death's heel between the cook's legs, the gouache confirms that Merian has taken a few artistic liberties and moved the figures far too close to each other.
|English translation from Beck, 1852|
|Death to the Cook.||The Cook's reply.|
Come here, John Cook, you too must trudge,
Fat Capons, geese and fish I've dressed,
|Translation from Hess, 1841|
|Death to the Cook.||Answer of the Cook.|
Come here John cook, thou must now go,
I have cook'd, chiken, gees and fish,