Inspiration for Døde-Dands

Christ's victory over Death
Døde-Dands, Christ
Die menschliche sterblichkeit
Meyer 1650: Die menschliche sterblichkeit

The most obvious inspiration for the woodcuts in Døde-Dands is Rudolf and Conrad Meyer's Die menschliche sterblichkeit, unter dem titel Todten-tanz from 1650.

Døde-Dands, Usurer
Die menschliche sterblichkeit
Meyer 1650: Usurer

This is particularly clear in the cases of Christ's victory over Death (above) and the usurer (left and right).

Other examples are the innkeeper, who is standing with his jug, while Death kicks him and flogs him with a moneybag (Meyer); the monk, who is pulled away by his own sash cord (Meyer); and the nobleman, who is wrapped up in his own cloak (Meyer).

Døde-Dands, Cook
Basels' dance of death

On the other hand, the cook (to the left), holding his empty jug, while Death carries his frying spit as a spear, is inspired by the cook in Basel (picture to the right).

In the same manner the Jew was copied from Basel. This is also true for the Jew by Meyer, but in Meyer's version the coins (and dice) are already lying on the ground and Death only pulls the Jew's clothing. In Basel and Døde-Dands Death tugs the Jew's beard and the coins are still in midair. There are however no dice in Døde-Dands.

Døde-Dands, Dancing master
Døde-Dands, Fencing master

Døde-Dands might in turn have influenced Thomas Nugent. In his book Travels through Germany from 1768 he included a rather free translation of Lübeck's dance of death, and without any explanation he has added two extra dancers at the end of the procession, namely the dancing-master and the fencing-master.

Nugent's text is very different from Døde-Dands, but it could be that the presence of these two figures was inspired by Døde-Dands.

More about Thomas Nugent.

Fencing and dancing master
Dood is 't slot

Two images in a Dutch almanac from 1799 are very reminiscent of these two scenes from Døde-Dands.

This means that the Dutch publisher has looked into the Danish Døde-Dands and has chosen to copy precisely those two scenes that Nugent had added unto Lübeck.

Further Information

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