David Chytraeus

The start of the section "Imagines Mortis Illustratæ"
Chytraeus, Old man
The start of another section of De Morte et Vita Aeterna.
Chytraeus, The escutcheon

D avid Chytræus (1530-1600) was a German Lutheran theologian and professor in Rostock.

The family was originally named Kochhafe, and the German word Kochhafen means cauldron. The family then assumed the Greek word for cauldron, χυτρα, which in Latin became "Chytræus".

David Chytræus' book »De Morte et Vita Aeterna« was a collection of several booklets. One of these sections was "Imagines Mortis Illustratæ", which contained the text from Hans Holbein's great dance of death — i.e. a long sequence of Bible quotes together with Gilles Corrozet's four-lined poems.

Several editions of this book were text-only, but in the edition from 1590 the publisher didn't just copy the Bible quotes and poems from Holbein — he also added 53 rough copies of Holbein's woodcuts-

Cardinal
Chytraeus 1590: Cardinal
Soldier
Chytraeus 1590: Soldier

It's a bit hard to figure out, just which images the artist had studied when he made his copies. Sometimes he follows the variations invented by Birckmann, and sometimes he seems to follow the original Holbein-woodcuts.

Roughly speaking, the artist is following Birckmann in the start of the dance. In the woodcut of the pope (further down on this page), the artist lets Death crawl behind the pope, just like Birckmann, and in the woodcut of the emperor, the emperor turns his face away from the broken sword. The clearest example is the cardinal (to the left), where the artist is the only of the many copyists to include Birckmann's espalier behind the cardinal.

In the woodcut of the soldier (to the right), the artist has obviously copied the original Holbein-woodcut, where Death is armed with a large bone, while Birckmann has replaced the bone with an arrow.

The hardest one to determine is the knight:

Holbein
Douce, Bonner & Byfield: Knight
Chytræus
Chytræus: Knight
Birckmann
Birckmann 1555: Knight

In Chytræus' woodcut the knight's sword points towards the edge of the picture - just like in Birckmann's variant - instead of pointing towards the centre as it does in Holbein's original woodcut. On the other hand the knight's posture: One hand on the sword and the hind leg raised — is copied from Holbein.

The pope
Chytraeus 1590: Pope
The senator
Chytraeus 1590: Senator

In the woodcut of the pope (to the left) the two devils have been left out. The little devil using a pair of bellows to blow devilish ideas into the senator's ears has disappeared too.

Duchess
Chytraeus 1590: Duchess
Hans Lützelburger's initials are replaced by a cross.
Chytraeus 1590: Duchess

Several of the woodcuts are adorned by a small cross, which evidently is the personal mark of the woodcutter. This is particularly true for the woodcut of the duchess, where Hans Lützelburger's initials on the bedpost has been replaced by this signature.

De Morte et Vita Aeterna was translated into Danish in 1591. Read more about Dødsens Billedes bescriffuelse.

Links & Resources

Creation
Chytraeus 1590: Creation
The Fall
Chytraeus 1590: The Fall
Expulsion
Chytraeus 1590: Expulsion
After the Fall
Chytraeus 1590: After the Fall
Bones of All Men
Chytraeus 1590: Bones of All Men
The Pope
Chytraeus 1590: The Pope
Emperor
Chytraeus 1590: Emperor
King
Chytraeus 1590: King
Cardinal
Chytraeus 1590: Cardinal
Empress
Chytraeus 1590: Empress
Queen
Chytraeus 1590: Queen
Bishop
Chytraeus 1590: Bishop
Duke
Chytraeus 1590: Duke
Abbot
Chytraeus 1590: Abbot
Abbess
Chytraeus 1590: Abbess
Nobleman
Chytraeus 1590: Nobleman
Canon
Chytraeus 1590: Canon
Judge
Chytraeus 1590: Judge
Lawyer
Chytraeus 1590: Lawyer
Senator
Chytraeus 1590: Senator
Preacher
Chytraeus 1590: Preacher
Priest
Chytraeus 1590: Priest
Monk
Chytraeus 1590: Monk
Nun
Chytraeus 1590: Nun
Old woman
Chytraeus 1590: Old woman
Physician
Chytraeus 1590: Physician
Astrologer
Chytraeus 1590: Astrologer
Rich man
Chytraeus 1590: Rich man
Merchant
Chytraeus 1590: Merchant
Sailor
Chytraeus 1590: Sailor
Knight
Chytraeus 1590: Knight
Count
Chytraeus 1590: Count
Old man
Chytraeus 1590: Old man
Countess
Chytraeus 1590: Countess
Noblewoman
Chytraeus 1590: Noblewoman
Duchess
Chytraeus 1590: Duchess
Peddler
Chytraeus 1590: Peddler
Peasant
Chytraeus 1590: Peasant
Child
Chytraeus 1590: Child
Judgement Day
Chytraeus 1590: Judgement Day
The escutcheon
Chytraeus 1590: The escutcheon
Soldier
Chytraeus 1590: Soldier
Waggoner
Chytraeus 1590: Waggoner
Gambler
Chytraeus 1590: Gambler
Robber
Chytraeus 1590: Robber
Blind man
Chytraeus 1590: Blind man
Beggar
Chytraeus 1590: Beggar
Drunkard
Chytraeus 1590: Drunkard
Fool
Chytraeus 1590: Fool
Child
Chytraeus 1590: Child
Children
Chytraeus 1590: Children
Children
Chytraeus 1590: Children
Children
Chytraeus 1590: Children
Old man
Chytraeus 1590: Old man
The escutcheon
Chytraeus 1590: The escutcheon

Other interpreters of Holbein's dance of death

Artists/publishers:

Hans Holbein (1526) - so-called proofs
Hans Holbein (1538) - the originals
Heinrich Aldegrever (1541)
Heinrich Vogtherr (1544)
Vincenzo Valgrisi (1545)
Arnold Birckmann (1555)
Juan de Icíar (1555)
Valentin Wagner (1557)
Georg Scharffenberg (1576)
Leonhart Straub (1581)
David Chytraeus (1590)
Peter Paul Rubens (ca. 1590)
Fabio Glissenti (1596)
Eberhard Kieser (1617)
Rudolf and Conrad Meyer (1650)
Wenceslaus Hollar (1651)
De doodt vermaskert (1654)
Thomas Neale (1657)
Johann Weichard von Valvasor (1682)
Salomon van Rusting (1707)
T. Nieuhoff Piccard (1720)
Christian de Mechel (1780)
David Deuchar (1788)
John Bewick (1789)
Alexander Anderson (1810)
Wenceslaus Hollar (1816)
Pseudo-Bewick (1825)
Ludwig Bechstein (1831)
Joseph Schlotthauer (1832)
Francis Douce (1833)
Carl Helmuth (1836)
Francis Douce (1858, 2. edition)
Henri Léon Curmer (1858)
Tindall Wildridge (1887)


Up to Holbein's great dance of death