The Abbot

Holbein Proofs, Abbot
Heidelberg's block book: Abbot
Heidelberg's block book: Abbot
Basel's dance of death: Cook
Basel's dance of death

O fficially the abbot has renounced this world and its temptations, but that doesn't prevent him from being rather portly, nor from fighting for his life.

Death has taken ownership of his cap (mitre) and staff (crozier), and drags the abbot away, while the abbot is about to strike with his prayerbook.

Holbein has taken the basic idea — Death stealing the staff from an Abbot in a long, black cloak with a heavy book — from Heidelberg's block book (picture to the left). But Holbein's execution is far more dynamic, with Death turning his back to the victim and carrying the staff over his shoulder — and this has in turn inspired the dance of death in his own hometown, Basel. In Basel (probably after a renovation in 1568) Death takes the cook's skewer over his shoulder and drags him away.

Variations: Aldegrever makes a very free interpretation, but in this one case Eberhard Kieser chooses to copy Holbein instead of Aldegrever.
Birckmann has made the abbot younger and slimmer and given him a new face; instead of being fat and startled, he's slim and aggressive; the hourglass has been set on the ground. Birckmann's changes are copied by Valvasor, Hollar and Deuchar.

Various Artists

Holbein Proofs (1526)
Holbein Proofs 1526: Abbot
Holbein (1538)
Holbein 1538: Abbot
Aldegrever (1541)
Aldegrever 1541: Abbot
Vogtherr (1544)
Vogtherr 1544: Abbot
Valgrisi (1546)
Valgrisi 1546: Abbot
Birckmann (1555)
Birckmann 1555: Abbot
Juan de Icíar (1555)
Juan de Icíar 1555: Abbot
Scharffenberg (1576)
Scharffenberg 1576: Abbot
Straub (1581)
Straub 1581: Abbot
Chytraeus (1590)
Chytraeus 1590: Abbot
Rubens (1590)
Rubens 1590: Abbot
Glissenti (1596)
Glissenti 1596: Abbot
Donaueschingen (1600)
Donaueschingen 1600: Abbot
Kieser (1617)
Kieser 1617: Abbot
Hollar (1651)
Hollar 1651: Abbot
Doodt Vermaskert (1654)
Doodt Vermaskert 1654: Abbot
Thomas Neale (1657)
Thomas Neale 1657: Abbot
Valvasor (1682)
Valvasor 1682: Abbot
Doodt Vermaskert (1698)
Doodt Vermaskert 1698: Abbot
Rusting (1707)
Rusting 1707: Abbot
Mechel (1780)
Mechel 1780: Abbot
Deuchar (1788)
Deuchar 1788: Abbot
Bewick (1789)
Bewick 1789: Abbot
Anderson (1810)
Anderson 1810: Abbot
'Mr. Bewick' (1825)
'Mr. Bewick' 1825: Abbot
Bechstein (1831)
Bechstein 1831: Abbot
Schlotthauer (1832)
Schlotthauer 1832: Abbot
Douce (1833)
Douce 1833: Abbot
Curmer (1858)
Curmer 1858: Abbot