he following pictures have been cut by a less skilled hand and are of variable quality. The soldier was added in the 5th edition in 1547.
The picture demonstrates how Holbein deviates from the older "real" dances of death. Earlier on, Death was merely a messenger, who announced the case of death. The picture to the left is from the dance of death in Holbein's hometown, Basel. Here, the knight meets Death in full armour, but there's not a hint of a fight — Death wears the armour in order to ape and mock the knight. With Holbein, Death is an aggressor, who grabs his victims and drags them away. It's therefore logical that when Death meets a person, who's capable of defending himself, a fierce duel ensues.
The soldier, who's literally fighting for his life, also appears in Holbein's dance of death-alphabet (image further up to the right). In Holbein's great dance of death the added space has given Holbein an opportunity to add a lot of fallen soldiers.
In the background, Death comes marching with a war drum — thus luring more soldiers to the battle. Holbein got the idea of Death striking the war drum from his old design, the Holbein dagger (picture to the right).
Variations: Birckmann has equipped Death with a gigantic arrow instead of a bone;
Death doesn't have a shield, but grabs the soldier; Death has placed
the hourglass on one of the fallen soldiers.
These changes are copied by Valvasor, Hollar and Deuchar.
Rubens finishes the drawing of the bone; Death raises his arm, so one can see the face; Death has a nose. These changes are copied by Mechel.