Mors de la Pomme, Moneychanger

Mors de la Pomme, Moneychanger
Basel, ca. 1440.
Merian, Usurer
Holbein, ca. 1526.
Holbein Proofs, Usurer

The image of the moneychanger also shows the difference compared to the traditional dances of death. In Basel (where the dance is about 25 years older than "Mors de la Pomme"), everything takes place outdoors. Even though the usurer is sitting behind his table, he is clearly out in the grassy field, just like the authority from La Danse Macabre.

In Holbein's woodcut, which is approx. 60 years younger than "Mors de la Pomme", the rich man / usurer is down in the cellar behind a double iron lattice. The picture at the top of the page shows something in between: The moneychanger is indoors, but not so enclosed that the citizen (and Death) cannot come in.


You who amass treasures
you need to pay attention to me.
You have enough of worldly goods;
324 you should have strived for higher goods.

The contrast between earthly treasures and "higher goods" is probably an allusion to Matthew 6:20: »lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal«.


    La mort

Vous qui les tresors amasses
Il vous conuient a moy entendre
Des biens mondains auez asses
324 A plus haultz biens deussiez contendre
Quoniam non interierunt non sumet omnia

    Le changeur

Jay doubte que biens ne faillent
Mais je voy bien que leur faulray
Et se doubte que pou me vaillent
328 Quant seray mort moins en vaulray
Melius est modicum iusto super

    Le bourgois

Cest bon dauoir richesse a point
Trop nuist qui pourete endure
De morir ne seffroie point
332 Mais aux riches cest chose dure
Thesaurizat et ignorat cui congregabit ea