The Priest
Holbein Proofs, Priest

The Priest

Jost Amman: Eygentliche Beschreibung Aller Stände auff Erden
En Priest tegnet af Jost Amman

IHS T he priest carries the sacred host, presumably to a man who's too ill to attend mass. Death goes in front, ringing a bell to ensure a speedy walk through the crowded streets, but no matter how fast they walk, Death will precede them.

The letters IHS are written at the top of the priest's ceborium. Some Christians believe this is short for Jesus, who in Greek is spelled IHSOUS. Other Christians believe IHS is an acronym for Iesus Hominum Salvator (=Jesus, saviour of men).

And then again there are Christians, who believe that the act of eating the flesh of ones God every week in church is an old pagan rite, and that IHS stands for the 3 "pagan" gods Isis, Horus and Seb.

It's interesting to compare the picture with one by Jost Amman from »Eygentliche Beschreibung Aller Stände auff Erden«. Amman's book is from 1568 - i.e. 30 year later than Holbein's, and Amman includes precisely the same elements that Holbein does: ceborium covered by cloth, lantern, bell and iron pot with holy water and sprinkler (aspergillum).

Variations: Birckmann alters the buildings in the horizon - e.g. he adds a round tower with a pinnacle at the top; The gate in the wall is opened, and two people are standing in the gate. Deuchar imitates Birckmann.

Various Artists

Holbein Proofs (1526)
Holbein Proofs 1526: Priest
Holbein (1538)
Holbein 1538: Priest
Vogtherr (1544)
Vogtherr 1544: Priest
Birckmann (1555)
Birckmann 1555: Priest
Juan de Icíar (1555)
Juan de Icíar 1555: Priest
Scharffenberg (1576)
Scharffenberg 1576: Priest
Straub (1581)
Straub 1581: Priest
Chytraeus (1590)
Chytraeus 1590: Priest
Kieser (1617)
Kieser 1617: Priest
Meyer (1650)
Meyer 1650: Priest
Doodt Vermaskert (1654)
Doodt Vermaskert 1654: Priest
Valvasor (1682)
Valvasor 1682: Priest
Mechel (1780)
Mechel 1780: Priest
Deuchar (1788)
Deuchar 1788: Priest
Bewick (1789)
Bewick 1789: Priest
Anderson (1810)
Anderson 1810: Priest
Bechstein (1831)
Bechstein 1831: Priest
Schlotthauer (1832)
Schlotthauer 1832: Priest
Douce (1833)
Douce 1833: Priest
Helmuth (1836)
Helmuth 1836: Priest
Curmer (1858)
Curmer 1858: Priest

Up to Holbein's great dance of death