Marginal thinking: 09. Markus Reinhart

Markus Reinhard used a lion as a symbol, like Mark the evangelist. His brother Johann (=John) used an eagle.
Markus Reinhart, Markus Reinhard

Marcus Reinhart may have been the first person to adorn the borders of a printed book with a dance of death — a few years before Simon Vostre. Reinhart's "Horae" is from 1490.

There is no year on the first and last pages of the book, and apart from the picture of a winged lion with the initials MR (picture to the right) there is no hint of the publisher. A few other books are known from the same publisher, but these are rare and just as silent when it comes to information, and often the pertinent pages are missing. The few versions that do offer a little information, claim they are printed in the unknown town "little Troya" or "Troyga".

Thus it has taken a lot of detective work to figure out where, when and by whom this book was printed.

What follows is a historical overview:

Proctor gives us a short biography of Reinhart and his brother: Markus Reinhart hailed from Strasbourg, but in 1477 he and his partner opened Lyon's second printery, which functioned until their cooperation ended in 1482. The year after that, 1483, Reinhart's more famous brother, Johann Grüninger, started a workshop in Strasbourg, and judging from the types employed by this printery, Markus has been helping his brother.

Around 1490 he opened his own printery in Kirchheim, but in 1495 at the latest it had been overtaken by a successor, while the woodcuts and types appear in books published by Johann in Strasbourg. It is not known what had happened to Reinhart. Was he dead, or had he returned to Johann bringing his materials along?

Around 1495-1496 Johann Grüninger published a Latin book of hours with many of the same woodcuts. The dance of death had been replaced by a copy with white background instead of black.

The conclusion of all this is that the book we are about to examine was printed in Kirchheim in 1490, or possibly shortly before that in Strasbourg, before Reinhart moved.

Reinhart's Dance of Death

The dance starts with the Original Sin, death music and ossuary.
Markus Reinhart, Reinhart 00
The dance ends with Judgment Day, resurrection, and Heaven and Hell.
Markus Reinhart, Reinhart 11

The office of the dead opens with a big picture of the three living and the three dead. Then come the 30 dancers, in the proper sequence, except that the 6th woodcut has been moved behind the 8th. Then the woodcuts are used again, but in a rather random manner. The column with pope, emperor and cardinal is only used once more, while the column with archbishop, knight and bishop is used six times.

As can be seen on the picture to the left, the dance starts with a picture of the original sin, Eve and the subtil serpent. Reinhart must be praised for this original invention, because when he published his "Horae" there would still be 48 years before Hans Holbein's woodcuts were published, which also started with the fall of man and the expulsion from Paradise.

Then follow two dead persons playing music. Reinhart has probably found his inspiration in the printed versions of Danse Macabre that start with four corpses striking up the music. The funny part about the Danse Macabre is that nobody is playing any music in the dance itself, and likewise there hasn't been any music in the margins we have seen so far. Once again Reinhart is 48 years ahead of Holbein's music.

At the bottom is an ossuary full of skulls. Once again Reinhart precedes Holbein, who also has an ossuary in the beginning. But neither Reinhart nor Holbein can claim originality, because the dance of death in Basel, which is from about 1440, also started with an ossuary.

The dance ends with Judgment Day, resurrection, and Heaven and Hell (picture to the right). Once again Reinhart was far ahead of Holbein, who also ended his dance with Judgment Day.

In the middle — between the Original Sin and Judgment Day — the men are dancing: Ten columns with three person in each. It takes some time to figure out that we are dealing with the same 30 persons that we know from Simon Vostre, because the pictures are small, clumsy, badly scanned and appear in a jumbled sequence.

It helps with the identification process, when one realizes that Reinhart hasn't simply copied Simon Vostre (and besides his book is older than Vostre's). Reinhart is in fact much closer to Guy Marchant's printed Danse Macabre than the other publishers are.

Take the minstrel. At first he is hard to recognize because he hasn't got a flute in his hand. But his attribute is the lute that lies on the ground behind him in all the versions. Reinhart and Marchant agree in having the minstrel place his hand on his chest, stretch out the other, and pull away from Death.

Reinhart:
Notice the lute on the ground
Reinhart: minstrel
Guyot Marchant
Guy Marchant: minstrel
BnF 995:
Position is similar, but he is leaning towards Death.
BnF 995: minstrel
Antoine Verard:
Flute in hand
Antoine Verard: minstrel
Simon Vostre:
Flute in hand
Vostre: minstrel

Other examples are the nobleman, who doesn't have a hunting falcon, and the knight and the citizen, who both are standing with their arms crossed.

Here's the citizen:

Reinhart
Reinhart: citizen
Guyot Marchant
Guy Marchant: citizen
BnF 995
BnF 995: citizen
Antoine Verard
Antoine Vérard: citizen
Simon Vostre
Vostre: citizen

The above tables show several things: First of all that Reinhart copies his figures pretty closely from Marchant. Secondly that Death's posture varies greatly between all versions, and thirdly that Simon Vostre copies Antoine Vérard closely (unless it's the other way).

Next
page

Let's leave the Continent and move on to English prayers.

Marcus Reinhart's 30 dancers

Markus Reinhard
Markus Reinhart 1490: Markus Reinhard
Markus Reinhard
Markus Reinhart 1490: Markus Reinhard
Reinhart 00
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 00
Reinhart 01
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 01
Reinhart 02
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 02
Reinhart 03
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 03
Reinhart 04
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 04
Reinhart 05
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 05
Reinhart 06
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 06
Reinhart 07
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 07
Reinhart 08
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 08
Reinhart 09
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 09
Reinhart 10
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 10
Reinhart 11
Markus Reinhart 1490: Reinhart 11
Reinhart
Markus Reinhart 1491: Reinhart

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