Was the dance of death designed by Holbein?

The dance of death alphabet. Signed by Hans Lützelburger
Holbein, the dance of death alphabet

T he many editions of Les Simulachres & historiees faces de la Mort vary concerning title, number of woodcuts, subtitles, language — and which books they are bundled together with (even in 1538, 41 small pictures was too little to fill an entire volume). The only thing the various editions have in common is that the artist behind the woodcut is anonymous.

Both the alphabet and the dance of death were published without Holbein's name. This convinced Francis Douce that Holbein was not the originator of the works. But in spite of Douce's immense learning and erudition he was able to persuade few if any scholars. The reasons everybody else point at Holbein and Lützelburger are:

Creation
Holbein 1538: Creation
The Fall
Holbein 1538: The Fall
Expulsion
Holbein 1538: Expulsion
After the Fall
Holbein 1538: After the Fall
Bones of All Men
Holbein 1538: Bones of All Men
The Pope
Holbein 1538: The Pope
Emperor
Holbein 1538: Emperor
King
Holbein 1538: King
Cardinal
Holbein 1538: Cardinal
Empress
Holbein 1538: Empress
Queen
Holbein 1538: Queen
Bishop
Holbein 1538: Bishop
Duke
Holbein 1538: Duke
Abbot
Holbein 1538: Abbot
Abbess
Holbein 1538: Abbess
Nobleman
Holbein 1538: Nobleman
Canon
Holbein 1538: Canon
Judge
Holbein 1538: Judge
Lawyer
Holbein 1538: Lawyer
Senator
Holbein 1538: Senator
Preacher
Holbein 1538: Preacher
Priest
Holbein 1538: Priest
Monk
Holbein 1538: Monk
Nun
Holbein 1538: Nun
Old woman
Holbein 1538: Old woman
Physician
Holbein 1538: Physician
Astrologer
Holbein 1538: Astrologer
Rich man
Holbein 1538: Rich man
Merchant
Holbein 1538: Merchant
Sailor
Holbein 1538: Sailor
Knight
Holbein 1538: Knight
Count
Holbein 1538: Count
Old man
Holbein 1538: Old man
Countess
Holbein 1538: Countess
Noblewoman
Holbein 1538: Noblewoman
Duchess
Holbein 1538: Duchess
Peddler
Holbein 1538: Peddler
Peasant
Holbein 1538: Peasant
Child
Holbein 1538: Child
Judgement Day
Holbein 1538: Judgement Day
The escutcheon
Holbein 1538: The escutcheon
Soldier
Holbein 1538: Soldier
Waggoner
Holbein 1538: Waggoner
Gambler
Holbein 1538: Gambler
Robber
Holbein 1538: Robber
Blind man
Holbein 1538: Blind man
Beggar
Holbein 1538: Beggar
Drunkard
Holbein 1538: Drunkard
Fool
Holbein 1538: Fool
Young woman
Holbein 1562: Young woman
Young man
Holbein 1562: Young man
Scabbard
Holbein : Scabbard
Scabbard
Holbein : Scabbard
Child
Holbein 1547: Child
Children
Holbein 1547: Children
Children
Holbein 1547: Children
Children
Holbein 1547: Children
Children
Holbein 1562: Children
Children
Holbein 1562: Children
Children
Holbein 1562: Children
Creation, 1547
Holbein 1547: Creation, 1547

Further Information


Up to Holbein's Dances of Death