Eberhard Kieser

While the woman looks out the window of the tower, Death uses a ladder to enter the other window.
There's no explanation of why the tower looks like a face.
Death in the window
The top of the frontispiece of the 1617 edition was a copy of Holbein's The escutcheon of Death.
Todten Dantz Durch alle Stände und Geschlecht, 1617

E berhard Kieser was from Kastelaun in Hunsrück, but he is known to have resided in Frankfurt between 1609 and 1630, where he had citizen's rights on the condition that he didn't practise his craft as a goldsmith.

Instead he published several books — among these a dance of death. The first edition was in 1617 with the title »Speculum Humanae Vitae«, same year under the name »Todten Dantz Durch alle Stände und Geschlecht« and in 1623 under the name »Icones Mortis Aliquot Imaginibus«. The sixth and last edition from 1648 was called »Icones Mortis Sexaginta Imaginibus«.

As the title (Sexaginta) says, there are 60 pictures. This woodcuts are numbered and furnished with flowery frames.

The book is a mix. Most of the pictures are close copies of Holbein's original woodcuts, but Kieser has also had access to the 8 pictures in Aldegrevers dance of death, and in 7 cases he has preferred Aldegrever to Holbein. The 8th picture, the abbot, along with most of the rest, are pretty close copies of Holbein. Three of the pictures are Kieser's own invention: The Jew, The Jewess and Death using a ladder to enter the window of a tower (Jeremiah 9:21, picture to the left).

Frontispiece, 1648
Sexaginta, Frontispiece

For each picture there's a Latin and German Bible quote and a Latin and German 4-lined poem. These are copied from Arnold Birckmann's books.

A quaint detail is that the year is not printed on the title page. Instead the book contains two Bible quotes in Latin and German, where some of the letters are to be read as Roman numerals (in the German text, W is to be read as two times V, i.e. 10). This is how it looks in the 1648-edition:

VIta nostra VeLVt herba, qVæ ManèVI V LV V M1071Icones Mortis Sexaginta, 1648
  fLoret aC VIres aCCIpIt, VesperIL CVI CCI I V I364
  arefaCta reseCatVr, & sVbIC C V V I210
  perIIt psal. 90.I I2
1648
aLLes fLeIsCh Ist heVV / VnDLL L I C I VVV D767
  aLLe seIne herrLIChkeIt IstLL I LIC I I254
  WIe eIn baLD VerWeLktesW I I LD V W L607
  Gras. Esa. 40.
1648
Kieser copies Holbein closely. Even the horse apples.
The peasant, detail, Kieser 1617

In contrast to many other contemporary Holbein-copies, the first 5 editions were not bundled together with various didactic writings. Kieser thought that the 60 woodcuts — each with a Bible quote in Latin and German and each with a 4-lined poem in Latin and German — was sufficient. In the 6th (and final) edition from 1648, the publisher Johann Vogel added a number of baroque poems signed G.P.H., which stood for Georg Philipp Harsdörffer.

Harsdörffer's popularity resulted in the 1648-edition being reprinted in 1998. For unknown reasons, Holbeins dance of death is once again confused with Basel's dance of death. This is from the publisher's description of the reprint: »Die 60 gezählten Kupfer, im wesentlichen unveränderte Sujets des berühmten Baseler Totentanzfreskos Hans Holbeins d.J., von dessen Original heute nur noch Spuren erkennbar sind, […]« Holbein's dance of death has nothing to do with the dance of death in Basel — this is a myth, which probably originates from Georg Scharffenberg.

Resources

TodenTantz
Kieser 1617: TodenTantz
Scales
Kieser 1617: Scales
Sexaginta
Kieser 1617: Sexaginta
Creation
Kieser 1617: Creation
After the Fall
Kieser 1617: After the Fall
Bones of All Men
Kieser 1617: Bones of All Men
The Pope
Kieser 1617: The Pope
Emperor
Kieser 1617: Emperor
King
Kieser 1617: King
Cardinal
Kieser 1617: Cardinal
Empress
Kieser 1617: Empress
Queen
Kieser 1617: Queen
Bishop
Kieser 1617: Bishop
Duke
Kieser 1617: Duke
Abbot
Kieser 1617: Abbot
Abbess
Kieser 1617: Abbess
Nobleman
Kieser 1617: Nobleman
Canon
Kieser 1617: Canon
Judge
Kieser 1617: Judge
Lawyer
Kieser 1617: Lawyer
Senator
Kieser 1617: Senator
Preacher
Kieser 1617: Preacher
Priest
Kieser 1617: Priest
Nun
Kieser 1617: Nun
Old woman
Kieser 1617: Old woman
Physician
Kieser 1617: Physician
Astrologer
Kieser 1617: Astrologer
Rich man
Kieser 1617: Rich man
Merchant
Kieser 1617: Merchant
Sailor
Kieser 1617: Sailor
Knight
Kieser 1617: Knight
Count
Kieser 1617: Count
Countess
Kieser 1617: Countess
Noblewoman
Kieser 1617: Noblewoman
Duchess
Kieser 1617: Duchess
Peddler
Kieser 1617: Peddler
Peasant
Kieser 1617: Peasant
Child
Kieser 1617: Child
Judgement Day
Kieser 1617: Judgement Day
The escutcheon
Kieser 1617: The escutcheon
Soldier
Kieser 1617: Soldier
Waggoner
Kieser 1617: Waggoner
Gambler
Kieser 1617: Gambler
Robber
Kieser 1617: Robber
Blind man
Kieser 1617: Blind man
Beggar
Kieser 1617: Beggar
Drunkard
Kieser 1617: Drunkard
Fool
Kieser 1617: Fool
Young woman
Kieser 1617: Young woman
Young man
Kieser 1617: Young man
Child
Kieser 1617: Child
Children
Kieser 1617: Children
Children
Kieser 1617: Children
Children
Kieser 1617: Children
Children
Kieser 1617: Children
Children
Kieser 1617: Children
Jew
Kieser 1617: Jew
Jewess
Kieser 1617: Jewess
Tower
Kieser 1617: Tower
Ossuary
Kieser 1617: Ossuary

Other interpreters of Holbein's dance of death


Up to Holbein's great dance of death