|Decoration from Tindall Wildridge's book|
small book about dances of death, "The Dance of Death in painting and in print" — illustrated with 11 woodcuts. Published by Tindall Wildridge in 1887. The book can be seen in detail at The Wenceslaus Hollar Digital Collection (see link below), where the woodcuts are attributed to John Bewick.
It's a mistake to claim the blocks were cut by Bewick, because:
Has this unknown artist then copied Birckmann, Hollar or Deuchar? The answer is that the artist has copied the 1816-edition of Hollar, where the well-worn copperplates had been "rebitten". The plate where this is most apparent is the bishop because the artist, who refreshed Hollar's plates added faces on the sun and its mirror image.
Another example is the queen. The heavy-handed "renovation" of Hollar's plates meant that the decoration on the pillars had disappeared:
A third example is the soldier. At the renovation in 1816 vertical lines were added at the top of the picture, and these are copied by the unknown artist:
It is rather clear then, that the artist has copied the 1816-edition of Hollar. One might sense a little doubt when it comes to the preacher, because Death holds a small bone in his hand, just like with Deuchar. But this similarity is in fact caused by the artist copying the 1816 edition of Hollar. The letter-press for this edition was copied from Mechel's etchings, where Death has a large bone in his hand. That's why the description to this picture says »Death, who is behind him with a stole about his neck, holds over his head the bone of a dead body«. The unknown artist, Deuchar and Pseudo Bewick have all added a bone as demanded by the description, but all three of them place the hand and bone differently.
In contrast the hourglass shows us that the artist has copied Hollar: Hollar has rendered the hourglass so indistinctly that Deuchar has skipped it. In the 1816-edition, the hourglass has all but disappeared and looks more like some sort of buckle on the stole that Death is wearing. And verily, the unknown artist has copied this "buckle", which he couldn't have found by Deuchar.
|Birckmann: Empty hands
|Hollar: Empty hands
fairly distinct hourglass
|Deuchar: A small bone
|Hollar 1816: Empty hands
very indistinct hourglass
|Unknown artist: A small bone
|Pseudo Bewick: Large bone|
The right year is probably 1803, and it seems that Tindall Wildridge has conflated the genuine Bewick with with the fake Bewick that Wright published in the Portfolio in 1825: »Mr. Wright declares, in connection with these cuts, that "expense is an object which is never regarded in supporting the character of the Portfolio"«.
However this doesn't affect my argument: that Wildridge is not trying to pass the 11 woodcuts of as genuine Bewick.