Todt zur Maleri:
ACh Fräwlein lassen ewer Klagen,
Tantzen dem Kind nach mit der Waglen:
Dann ihr möcht mir hie nicht entfliehen,
Den Gasthut wil ich euch abziehen.
Death to the Painteress.|
Alas, little Madam.(1), cease your complaining.
Dance after the child with the cradle,
for here you cannot flee from me.
I will pull the guest-hat off you.(2)
ICh hab mich allezeit ergeben
In Todt, hoff aber ewigs Leben:
Wiewol der Todt mich greifft hart an.
Nimpt mich mit Kind, und sampt dem Mann.
I have always given myself
to Death, but hope for eternal life.
Even though Death grabs hard unto me.
Take me with child and also the husband.
Line drawing after Büchel
|Frölich / Scharffenberg 1588|
Mother with child comes before the painter.
Now the time has come for the painter's wife. Frölich calls her "The child's mother" ("Des Kindts Mütter"), but in Der Todendantz she is "Des Malers Fraw", and the illustration from the 1588-edition of Frölich's book (picture to the right) makes it clear that she is Barbara Hallerin, widow after Hans Klauber and that the boy is their son, Ulrich Klauber.
If we compare with the mural in Kleinbasel (picture to the left), the mother is alone with "her" Death, while the child is in separate picture. In Kleinbasel Death doesn't fondle the mother, as he does in Großbasel (picture above).
This site follows Merian's copperplates, and for inscrutable reasons Merian lets the painter appear before his family. The same thing is true for Feyerabend, who relies on Merian and therefore has the same sequence.
This is probably just a banal, careless error. In the same way that the copperplates in the 1621-edition are presented all jumbled up. Mother and child are a part of the dance of death itself, and they appear in both Kleinbasel and Heidelberg. In contrast, the painter is standing outside the scenery, looking back at his creation, while Death points to the left at the painter's wife and child: »Even if you have portrayed me terribly, you will soon have the same shape - with child and wife«.
In Frölich's text from 1581 the painter comes last (but before the Turk). This is also true for Gross' copy from 1623 and Tonjola's from 1661. These 3 books, which were published while the mural was intact, agree that first comes the child, then the mother and finallly the painter. In Frölich's book from 1588 (picture to the right) the text was illustrated, but the artist was lazy and portrayed the painter and his family on one single woodcut, which was then used twice. On this woodcut, mother and son unequivocally come before the painter, while Death points left towards the painter's family.
Concerning the picture's position and the picture's longevity, see the page about Adam & Eve in Paradise.
Footnotes: (1) (2)
The connection is not very obvious. Maybe it has something to do with people only being guests on Earth, until we return home to Paradise? Or maybe it's simply because Death is wild about pulling people's hats off — just look at the abbot, the councilman and the peasant.