The Hermit

© The Trustees of the British Museum
Mouse over to remove letter Copyleft JMJ
Holbein's dance of death, the old man.
Holbein Proofs, Old man
Mouse over for animation Copyleft by JMJ

Death leads the hermit. With a big grin he has placed the stick behind the rock that will trip up the hermit. The hermit has a T-cross and a rosary in his hand. Behind him we see his simple cabin.

The hermit does not appear in Holbein's dance of death, but is similar to the old man - where the same Bible quote is used. Death leads the old man toward the open grave (picture to the left).

The picture of Death leading the old man into the open grave has also inspired the dance of death in Holbein's home city, Basel (picture to the right).

Basel's dance of death,
the blind man
Merian, Blind man

The accompanying text goes: »Myn geyst der wurt verzert myne tag werden gekurtzt / vnd alleyn das grab ist mir ubrig«.

This is from Job 17,1, which in Luther's version sounds: »Mein Geist ist zerbrochen, meine Tage sind ausgelöscht; das Grab ist da«. In English: »My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me«.

Various artists

Holbein Alphabet (1524)
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: W
Wolfgang Köpphel (1526)
Wolfgang Köpphel 1526: Köpfel: W
Hans Schott (1536)
Hans Schott 1536: Schott: W
Hans Schott (1536)
Hans Schott 1536: Schott: W
Hans Schott (1537)
Hans Schott 1537: Kreüterbuch: W
Hans Schott (1537)
Hans Schott 1537: Kreüterbuch: W
Hans Schott (1537)
Hans Schott 1537: Kreüterbuch: W
Hans Schott (1540)
Hans Schott 1540: Alchoran: W
Hans Schott (1540)
Hans Schott 1540: Wahrhafftige Histori: W
Hans Schott (1545)
Hans Schott 1545: Dennmaerckische: W
Hans Schott (1545)
Hans Schott 1545: Annal Buch: W
Heinrich Lödel (1849)
Heinrich Lödel 1849: Lödel: W
Douce Alphabet (1858)
Douce Alphabet 1858: Douce: W

Up to Holbein's Dance of Death Alphabet