Judgment Day

© The Trustees of the British Museum
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Holbein's dance of death, Judgment day.
Holbein Proofs, Judgment Day
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The woodcut of Judgment Day is nearly identical to the one from Holbein's great dance of death (picture to the left). The same passages from the Bible are cited for both works.

Holbein was the first person to finish a dance of death with the Resurrection, and paradoxically he might have been inspired by the beginning of Basel's dance of death - i.e. the same picture that Holbein used as inspiration for the introduction of his dance of death.

On the picture below to the right - above the doorway to the ossuary - there's a representation of Christ as a judge - with the pious to the left - and the lost souls burning in Hell to the right. The opposite scenario is also possible: That the scene in Basel was inspired by Holbein's dance of death and had been added to the mural during a restoration by Hans Kluber.

There are some differences between both of Holbein's scenes and the one in Basel. First of all Jesus sits alone. As a good Protestant, Holbein didn't need Mary and John to intercede for the sinners. The second difference is that Holbein doesn't show any sinners burning in the fire. His Jesus is a saviour who functions as the anti-thesis to the dance of death.

Basel's Dance of death, the ossuary.
Basel's Dance of death, the ossuary

The accompanying text for this letter goes: »Wir werden alle ston vor dem richter stul Christi. Darumb wacht / wann ir wißt nit in welcher stundt eüwer herr würt kommen«.

The first parts is from Romans 14,10, which in Luther's version sounds: »Wir werden alle vor den Richterstuhl Gottes gestellt werden«. In English it goes: »But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ«.

The second part is from Matthew 24,42, which Luther translates like this: »Darum wachet; denn ihr wißt nicht, an welchem Tag euer Herr kommt«. In English: »Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come«.

If you're wondering what hour the Lord doth come, see the page about Judgement day.

Various artists

Holbein Alphabet (1524)
Holbein Alphabet 1524: Holbein: Z
Hans Schott (1536)
Hans Schott 1536: Schott: Z
Hans Schott (1537)
Hans Schott 1537: Kreüterbuch: Z
Hans Schott (1537)
Hans Schott 1537: Kreüterbuch: Z
Hans Schott (1540)
Hans Schott 1540: Alchoran: Z
Hans Schott (1545)
Hans Schott 1545: Dennmaerckische: Z
Augsburg (1545)
Augsburg 1545: Ulhart Z
Heinrich Lödel (1849)
Heinrich Lödel 1849: Lödel: Z
Douce Alphabet (1858)
Douce Alphabet 1858: Douce: Z