On this site we know Antoine Vérard mostly for his great and influential editions of Danse Macabre.
But Vérard was also an early mover when it came to publishing books of hours, in fact he was the first ever to publish a printed book of hours in France (picture to the right).
This first book of hours was (naturally) fairly simple, but his publications were soon to be filled with small and large illustrations. The first version with a dance of death in the margin may be the one owned by the Boston Public Library (Q.405.107), which was printed »le .xx. iour de Januier. Lan .M.CCCCC.« — i.e. January 22nd 1500 (or 1501). The colophon does not tell who printed the book — or for whom — but other woodcuts in the same book are those that Antoine Vérard used for his books of hours.
In this book there is only one column, viz. pope-emperor-cardinal, which is used four times, but in later books of hours from 1503 (BNF, Velins 1505) and 1506 (Orleans, A 5825), the number has been expanded to 48 figures, 24 men and 24 women). Thus the series is considerably shorter than Simon Vostre's with 30 men and 36 women.
Later we find the same dance of death in books of hours published by Guillaume Godard.
This series could easily be taken for Simon Vostre's. They are slightly more clumsy and caricatured, but on the whole quite similar. Except for the first three (i.e. pope-emperor-cardinal) the scenes are all laterally inverted so Death stands to the right of the person.
The experts disagree about whether Simon Vostre's images were cut in wood or metal. But when it comes to Godard, there's no doubt because at least one of the original woodblocks still exists (picture to the right).
Guillaume Godard has also copied another dance of death, but we'll return to that later. First we'll look at a variant by Jean de Coulonces.
The next chapter is about another series by Jean de Coulonces.
The previous subject was The 66 dancers.