Heinrich Kruspe (1821-1893)

Kruspe: Student
Kruspe, Student
Kruspe: Actress
Kruspe, Actress

On March 7th, 1872, the orphanage in Erfurt burned down, and at the same time the dance of death in Erfurt — 56 life-size oil paintings — were destroyed. But as soon as April of the same year, the draughtsman Kruspe could reassure the readers of Illustrirten Zeitung that about 27 years ago he had made pen drawings of the 40 most important paintings.

Fortunately 40 drawings would precisely fit into two pages with 5 × 4 scenes on each, so these 40 drawings were reproduced by the staff artists and printed on two pages as line-drawings: "Nach Federzeichnungen von H. Kruspe".

The 40 scenes were brought in a sequence that makes no sense whatsoever.

Apparently nobody knew about Götz' watercolours at that time, so at the bottom of both pages were written: "Einzig bekannte Copie der […] Originale".

Kruspe: Miller
Kruspe, Miller
Kruspe: Pope
Kruspe, Pope

30 years later, in 1902, Julius Schröer wrote a longer article about the dance of death. Schröer in particular used a booklet by Ludwig Schellenberg titled "Denksprüche und Beschreibung der Gemäldegallerie des sogenannten Todtentanzes im evangelischen Waisenhause zu Erfurt" Folgendes". This book does not seem to exist anymore, but fortunately Schröer has quoted copiously from it.

Along with the article Schröer published Kruspe's drawings. Evidently the printing technique had made great progress during the 30 years, for this time it wasn't manual copies of Kruspe, "Nach Federzeichnungen von H. Kruspe", but in fact a photographic reproduction: »auf 5 Tafeln gebrachten 45 Bildnisse der photographischen Aufnahme von Kruspes Handzeichnungen«.

As it turned out, Kruspe hadn't just made 40 drawings, but 46. Fortuitously the 46th picture, the judge, was both "unfinished" and "hardly recognizable", so therefore Schröer could bring the other 45 on five page with 3 × 3 drawings on each.

The drawings don't look like line-drawings, but this may be due to the reproduction technique of that time. Regrettably the drawings are a bit cropped.

In the bottom left corner of each drawing is a number. This number corresponds to the number in Schöer's text (which was based on Schellenberg's book). There are probably no numbers on the drawings themselves.

Kruspe: Death
Kruspe, Death
Goetz: Death
Götz, Death

Much later it was discovered that the paintings had also been copied by Götz in 1834, ca. 10 years before Kruspe had made his drawings. All 56 paintings in the series are copied in colour and with the text.

These two copies are often at odds with each other, and if one compares Kruspe's drawings with Götz' watercolours, it turns out that it is usually Kruspe who has most details.

Take the first picture: Death is surrounded by symbols of worldly power, honour and knowledge, but Kruspe has far more objects: The crowns of king, emperor and pope (Götz only shows one crown), a bishop's miter, helmet, money sack, book and globe (on the other hand, Götz has a lute and a sheet with musical notes). In the background to the left, Kruspe shows a temple, and to the right there are two reliefs showing the Fall of Man and Judgment Day, where Götz only has a curtain.

Obviously it is hard to determine, which of the two is most correct, since the originals perished in 1872. Nevertheless it must be said that Kruspe often has the most interesting version, while Götz has the prettiest version.

External links

Further Information

Drawings by Heinrich Kruspe (40 + 5)

Kruspe 1736: Death
Kruspe 1736: Actress
Kruspe 1736: Dancer
Kruspe 1736: Singer
Gypsy woman
Kruspe 1736: Gypsy woman
Kruspe 1736: Cook
Kruspe 1736: Astronomer
Kruspe 1736: Typefounder
Kruspe 1736: Quack
Kruspe 1736: Cooper
Kruspe 1736: Miller
Kruspe 1736: Potter
Wax trader
Kruspe 1736: Wax trader
Wedding inviter
Kruspe 1736: Wedding inviter
Kruspe 1736: Children
Mountain man
Kruspe 1736: Mountain man
Kruspe 1736: Mayor
Kruspe 1736: Queen
The empress
Kruspe 1736: The empress
Kruspe 1736: Pope
Field watch
Kruspe 1736: Field watch
Civil servant
Kruspe 1736: Civil servant
Kruspe 1736: Painter
Kruspe 1736: Lawyer
Kruspe 1736: Merchant
Kruspe 1736: Colonel
Kruspe 1736: Soldier
Kruspe 1736: General
Kruspe 1736: Innkeeper
Kruspe 1736: Apothecary
Kruspe 1736: Physician
Count and countess
Kruspe 1736: Count and countess
Young woman
Kruspe 1736: Young woman
Young man
Kruspe 1736: Young man
Kruspe 1736: Priest
Kruspe 1736: Canon
Kruspe 1736: Cardinal
Kruspe 1736: Hunter
Kruspe 1736: Student
Kruspe 1736: Orphanage
Kruspe 1736: Elector
Kruspe 1736: King
Adam and Eve
Kruspe 1736: Adam and Eve
Kruspe 1736: Christ
Old woman
Kruspe 1736: Old woman