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-
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:
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.
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.
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 This is particularly true for the woodcut of the duchess, where Hans Lützelburger's initials on the bedpost has been replaced by this signature.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.
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)
Jiří Melantrich (1563)
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)
Erbaulicher Sterb-Spiegel (1704)
Salomon van Rusting (1707)
T. Nieuhoff Piccard (1720)
Christian de Mechel (1780)
David Deuchar (1788)
John Bewick (1789)
Alexander Anderson (1810)
Wenceslaus Hollar (1816)
"Mr. 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)