Valentin Wagner

Title page. Kronstadt was called Corona in Latin.
Wagner, Titlepage
The knight
Wagner, Knight

W agner was born 1510-1520 in Kronstadt and died 2/9 1557. He was humanist teacher, rector, Lutheran pastor and reformer. He lived in the part of Transylvania that's inhabited by the Siebenbürger Saxons. The area is (presumably) named after the seven fortified cities, one of which is Kronstadt (Romanian: Braşov; Hungarian: Brassó; Latin: Brassovia or Corona).

Wagner received his education in Krakow and Wittemberg (1542) among others under Melanchthon. He returned to Kronstadt in 1542, where he worked for the Reformer Johannes Honterus. In 1544 he became the first schoolmaster of the newly opened Protestant school. After the death of Honterus in 1549, Wagner took over the printing shop and published books, the most important one being The New Testament in Greek and Latin: Novum Testamentum, 1557 (picture: 1, 2, 3).

The same year — shortly before his death — he published the book to the left. As the front page states, it consists of two parts.

The second part was "Praecepta vitae Chri[s]tianae, et alia quaedam epigrammata, carmine elegiaco". I.e.: "Instructions for a Christian life, and some other epigrams, in elegiac couplets". Wagner had written and published that book back in 1554, and now he bundled this three years old publication together with copies of Holbein's woodcuts.

The first part had the title: "Imagines mortis selectiores, cum δεκαστίχοις". I.e.: "A careful choice of pictures of death, with [poems] consisting of ten lines".

The pictures are coarse copies of Holbein's dance of death, which Wagner has probably cut himself. Each image is accompanied by a Latin verse consisting of ten lines (Greek: δεκάστιχος = consisting of ten lines).

According to the preface, Wagner wrote these poems himself. He also claimed to have used an edition containing Georgius Aemilius' text as source. The verses were printed along with a long row of Bible quotes. Some of these are clearly the same that were used in the French editions of Simulachres, but this is far from always the case.


Thanks to Mischa von Perger for information and corrections.

External link

Wagner 1557: Titlepage
The Fall
Wagner 1557: The Fall
Wagner 1557: Expulsion
After the Fall
Wagner 1557: After the Fall
Old woman
Wagner 1557: Old woman
Wagner 1557: Astrologer
Rich man
Wagner 1557: Rich man
Wagner 1557: Merchant
Wagner 1557: Knight
Old man
Wagner 1557: Old man
Wagner 1557: Countess
Wagner 1557: Noblewoman
Wagner 1557: Child
Judgment Day
Wagner 1557: Judgment Day
The escutcheon
Wagner 1557: The escutcheon

Other interpreters of Holbein's dance of death


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)
Thy Grief (2022)

Melantrich was from Czechia.
Melantrich, Pope
Hollar was also from Czechia.
Hollar, Soldier
Valvasor was from Ljubljana in Slovenia.
Valvasor, Duke