The dance ends with a picture of Adam and Eve. Along with the picture comes a long sermon about the Fall, the Original Sin and Christ as the Great Redeemer (see bottom of this page).
With this text Hans Kluber was able to remove the mural from its Catholic roots and instead turn it into Protestant propaganda. In that way Kluber also made it possible for the mural to survive the changing tastes and fashions for a few more centuries.
The position and size of this scene is hard to figure out. Our oldest sources, those that are older than Merian, are all silent:
So the long and short of it is, that none of our sources before Merian indicate there ever was a Paradise scene. Except for Frölich's 1588-edition.
Frölich illustrated his 1588-edition, Zwen Todentäntz, with numerous woodcuts, the majority of which were (bad) copies of Holbein's dance of death produced 12 years earlier, in 1576,
Frölich used these woodcuts to illustrate the dances of death in Basel and in Bern. First he brought those woodcuts that could illustrate the dance in Basel, and then the woodcuts that could illustrate Bern but not Basel. Finally he brought those woodcuts (canon, sailor, gambler, boozer and robber) that he couldn't fit with either of the two dances. These last 5 woodcuts were given the headline "Concinnator" to show that it was him, the author, who had invented the dialogue.
In this book from 1588 Adam & Eve are the first to appear (even though they were the last on the mural in Basel) and there is no text resembling Merian's. Instead the illustration was used to introduce the dance of death, which was intended to explain about the hardness of life, in Latin and German:
ADAM und EVA durch den Fall,
In was noht bracht uns Menschen all,
Werden ordenlich in Latein,
Und Teutsche Verss erklären sein.
This verse is also headlined "Concinnator" and this text is obviously not from the mural, since the painting didn't contain any Latin "explanations".
It should be clear by now that the long text included by Merian was unknown before him. Either it was added at the renovation in 1616, or it was invented by himself. Personally I'm inclined to believe the latter, since the text is simply too voluminous to have been painted on an outdoor wall.
The open question is whether Frölich's woodcut is another (bad) copy of Holbein's Fall of Man, or if the image is one of the very few — like cook, heathen and painter — that were copied from the dance in Basel. This is very difficult to answer, since our other witnesses to the image (Merian and Feyerabend) are mutually very different:
|Albrecht Dürer, 1504|
The above comparison shows great differences between Holbein's and Frölich's images: Holbein lets Adam pass the fruit to Eve (instead of vice versa), Eve is sitting down; the area is full of animals; and the subtil serpent has a human head.
Frölich also has similarities with the famous etching by Dürer. For instance both af the images have a rabbit, which Frölich also includes in the depiction of the Expulsion (further up, to the right).
Merian and Frölich share the posture of the bodies (also with Dürer), but in contrast there's a marked difference when it comes to the animals in the background. Frölich doesn't have the parrot, which Dürer, Merian and Feyerabend (see further down) all share, and he doesn't have the lion and the eagle that Merian and Feyerabend have.
In Merians copperplates, Adam & Eve are included in all editions, from 1621 and later. The picture of Adam & Eve (top of this page) is not broader than the rest of the plates in the series, and Adam & Eve are placed after the painter and his wife.
In contrast, Büchel makes an reproduction where Adam and Eve are far broader the rest of the scenes(1) and Büchel informs us that the painter and his family have been removed during a later restoration, and that the paradise-scene was moved to fill up the space.(2)
Unfortunately I haven't seen Büchel's watercolour myself, but let us instead look at Feyerabend's watercolour (to the right). Feyerabend painted his watercolour in 1806, i.e. the year after the wall with the mural was demolished. He uses Merian's copperplates (or rather Chovin's copies of Merian's plates) for support and includes the painter and his wife (in the same wrong sequence as Merian).
Precisely when it comes to Adam & Eve, Feyerabend deviates markedly from Merian: First comes the unicorn, then an eagle, then Adam & Eve around a small tree with a parrot, then the Tree of Knowledge with serpent and finally a lion. Presumably Feyerabend in 1806, the year after the mural was destroyed, still had the painting fresh in memory. His painting looks exactly like the way Burckhardt-Biederman(1) describes Büchel's painting.
Burckhardt-Biederman suggests this model over the different renovations:
|1568 (Kluber)||Painter's family||Painter||Frölich|
|1616 (Bock)||Painter's family||Painter||Adam & Eve||Merian|
The problem with this model is that it doesn't take the child into account. Burckhardt-Biederman hides this by writing "Painter's family", but the fact is that all our witnesses: Ludwig Iselin's manuscript from 1577, Der Todendantz, the gouaches and Frölich gives us one dialogue for the child and another for the mother / paintress. The model doesn't explain very well either, how a picture book with gouaches from 1600 (which was unknown to Burckhardt-Biederman) can contain a picture of the child.
Dr. Uli Wunderlich(3) instead suggest this model:
|1568 (Kluber)||Child||Painter's family||Painter|
|1616 (Bock)||Painter's family||Painter|
The problem with Wunderlich's model is that Frölich places the Turk at the very end of the dance — first the child, then the child's mother, then the painter and finally the Turk. Frölich's book finishes with the Turk's dialogue, and he then tells an imaginary "satyr", »Hiemit die Reüm des Todtentanz, O Satyre sich enden gantz« (= "Hereby, oh Satyr, the rhymes of the dance of death ends totally").
The same thing is true for Der Todendantz and for Ludwig Iselin's manuscript from 1577. They all agree in placing the Turk at the end - after the painter.
Merian doesn't know anything about a Turk, but he places Adam & Eve after the painter and his family. It should be noted that Merian places the painter before the painter's wife, which is an obvious error, but we still know that Adam & Eve must be the last in the dance, because they are followed by a long, boring sermon - the sheer size of which proves that the text couldn't have been inside the dance of death.
Wunderlich's model is thus contradicted by all our witnesses: Frölich, Der Todendantz, Iselin and Merian.
What can we conclude then? Not much. Logically the painter should be the very last dancer, looking back and contemplating his work. The painter's dialogue is much longer than the others, so there hasn't been much room for the next dancer. Nonetheless all our oldest witnesses agree that the dance ended with child, mother, painter and Turk. Thus the Turk must have been a later addition than the painter, which is at odds with the fact that there was only 9 years from Hans Kluber's renovation in 1568 to Iselin's manuscript from 1577. This leads to the bold conclusion that there was a painter in the dance long before Kluber's renovation, and that Klauber has simply replaced the name of this painter with his own.
In the same way all our witnesses agree that there wasn't a scene with Adam & Eve. The first time they appear is in Frölich's 1588-edition, but here they are placed in the start of the dance and without the long text that accompanies them in Merian's edition. On the other hand, there's no denying a certain similarity between Frölich's woodcut og Merian's etching (the unicorn and the placement of Adam's hand), which leads to another bold conclusion, namely that it was Frölich's woodcut, that inspired Bock to add this scene on the mural during the restauration in 1616.
Here follows the text from Merian's book:
SEcht hie der Spiegel(4) aller Welt,
DIe Kron und Scepter war verlorn,
In this case there are two different English versions. One is used in books published by C.F.Beck, and the other by Fuchs, Stuckert and Schneider.
|English translation from C.F.Beck|
See this world-mirror, 'tis a show,
In Paradise man's first estate
The hour glides by
|Fuchs, Stuckert and Schneider|
Such the fate of human kind,
Tho' glorious first in Paradise
Footnotes: (1) (2) (3) (4)
Burckhardt-Biedermann compares Merian's and Büchel's pictures of Paradise thusly: Vergleichen wir diese Merian'schen Bilder mit den von Emanuel Büchel im Jahr 1773 aufgenommenen, so ergiebt sich, daß die Uebermalungen von 1658 und 1703 kaum noch in unbedeutenden Einzelheiten etwas veränderten. Nur das allerletzte Bild, der Sündenfall, erscheint bei Büchel in die Breite gezogen und verändert und hat die beiden ihm zunächst vorangehenden Gruppen des Malers und der Malerin (Kind und Mutter) verdrängt. Denn während bei Merlans "Paradies" der Baum mit der Schlange noch zwischen den Ureltern steht, der Löwe hinter Adam, das Einhorn hinter Eva und rechts von ihr der Papagei erscheint: sitzt nun bei Büchel der Papagei zwischen dem Paare auf einem Strauch, ist der Baum mit der Schlange seitwärts rechts neben Eva gerückt und noch weiter hinaus der stehende Löwe; links von Adam steht ein Adler mit ausgebreiteten Flügeln und zu äußerst links, in weiter Entfernung, ruht, die übrige Gruppe betrachtend, das Einhorn. Das Bild erscheint bei Büchel etwa dreimal so breit als hoch.
(I quote from Massmann's Die Baseler Todtentänze in Getreuen Abbildungen, Stuttgart 1847)