Was the dance of death designed by Holbein?

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

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:

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

Further Information


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