alvasor (1641-1693) was also known as Johann Weichard Valvasor. He was a Slovenian nobleman from Ljubljana (Laybach), and he had established a printery in his castle with a large library and collection of prints.
In 1682 he published the book Theatrum Mortis HumanŠ Tripartitum. Well, the year is a bit uncertain because the title page of each of the three parts indicate the year 1681, and in the beginning of the book there's a chronogram with the year 1680 (picture to the right).
As the title says, the book is in three parts: Only the first part is a dance of death. Second part deals with the subject of various "death types" (i.e. the death of famous historic persons), and the third part shows 42 pictures of people being tortured by devils. The pictures are framed with decorations of flowers, birds and fruits.
The frontispiece depicts the Triumph of Death (picture to the left), with Death entering the city doors riding on a war elephant. In front of the procession are Adam and Eve bound, along with the Tree of Wisdom with serpent.
The illustrations were executed by Andreas Trost and Johann (Janez) Koch, and they follow the versions invented by Arnold Birckmann very closely. This is also true for Hollar and David Deuchar, but Valvasor is even more consequent: Hollar (and Deuchar) copied some of their scenes from Holbein, but Valvasor has only copied Birckmann. The only exception is the expulsion, where Valvasor doesn't follow Birckmann but on the other hand doesn't make an exact copy of Holbein either.
Valvasor deviates from Birckmann in one way, namely that Death is added to those scenes, where Holbein and Birckmann didn't show him originally. This means the beggar and the chubby kids.
oth Valvasor and Hollar copy Birckmann. Valvasor is from Slovenia and Hollar is from Czechia. Is it possible then, that Valvasor might be a sort of "missing link" between Birckmann and Hollar? Has Hollar copied Valvasor?
Hardly, since Hollar's copperplates are 31 years older than Valvasor's. If further proof is needed, then look at the sleeve that Birckmann has designed for the troubadour who plays for the nun. Birckmann's sleeve (to the left) is puffy at the top and tight below, while Holbein's original sleeve is shorter and made of strips. Hollar (and Deuchar) copies Birckmann's sleeve, and Hollar hasn't done this via Valvasor, because in Valvasor's version of the nun, the troubadour has been removed.
Is it the other way around then? Has Valvasor copied Hollar's book, which was 31 years old by then? This is hardly credible either. First of all Valvasor has 53 scenes (including 4 of chubby boys), while Hollar only has 30. Secondly Valvasor is much more Birckmann-o-phile than Hollar. Hollar sometimes ignores Birckmann's deviations: In the pictures of Creation, Temptation and Fall, the emperor and the duke, Hollar has prefered to copy Holbein's originals. But even in these 4 cases, Valvasor shows the same variations as Birckmann, so there's no indication Valvasor has ever looked at Hollar.
The conclusion is then, that Valvasor and Hollar independently of each other have chosen to copy Birckmann instead of Holbein.
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 IcÝar (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 ←
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)
Ludwig Bechstein (1831)
Joseph Schlotthauer (1832)
Francis Douce (1833)
Carl Helmuth (1836)
Francis Douce (1858, 2. edition)
Henri LÚon Curmer (1858)
Tindall Wildridge (1887)