Danse macabre, Troyes, after 1766

Troyes, after 1766. The inferior copy is used on the front page and on page 54.
Garnier, Troyes 1766

On the previous pages we saw how the family Oudot for more than 100 years, between ca. 1600 and 1729, published the Parisian "Danse Macabre", and how the old woodcuts at some point were replaced by copies.

The book to the left was published by Jean-Antoine Garnier (1742-1780). It doesn't have a year of publication, but the front page says »avec permission«, and the last page reproduces the royal permission that his grandfather, Pierre Garnier, had received in 1728. The permit covers ca. 10 specific titles, among these "La grande danse macabre".

Socard(1) characterises this permit as »nothing more than an expired passport, which Jean-Antoine used unduly. […] Like his grandmother [i.e. the widow after Pierre Garnier] and his father Jean Garnier had done before him, Jean-Antoine inserted at the end of his editions the privileges granted to the head of the family, who died in December 1738«.

Socard adds: »As one can see, the date of the permissions on the works of the successors of Pierre Garnier is never the actual date of the book itself«. Apparently the family continued following this tradition for many years by reprinting the book, still with the same year: »This printer, as well as his successors, deceived the purchasers by selling them a book of 1773, as being from 1728, and the last Garniers did even worse by printing, from 1780 to 1820, the same book with the old date«.(2)

The good copy is used on pages 3 and 34
Garnier, Troyes 1766

A short view over the Family Garnier looks like this:(3)

On the front page is yet another copy of the dead musicians and this time it is obvious that it's a copy. The copyist has hardly even bothered to copy the vegetation in the background. And one wonders why it has been necessary to produce such a bad copy when the Garnier still had the good copy — the one that had been used in Troyes since 1610 — this woodcut is in fact used inside the book (picture to the right).

The explanation may have something to do with the fact that the address on the front page of this book is the same as in Oudot's 1700 and 1729-editions: Ruë du Temple. In 1762 Jean-Antoine Garnier's father, Jean Garnier, wanted to expand his business, and so he bought the house at the corner of Rue du Temple from the widow of Jean IV Oudot.

It would appear that the Garnier family took over the good copies along with Oudot's workshop, so maybe the bad copies originate from grandfather Pierre's 1728-edition? This could also explain why Jean-Antoine Garnier have chosen to feature the inferior copy on the frontpage, out of veneration for his grandfather, while hiding the good copy away inside the book.

The living queen gets the bad copy.
Garnier, Troyes 1766
The dead queen gets the good copy.
Garnier, Troyes 1766

A similar phenomenon is seen with the dead queen at the end of the dance. The publisher has illustrated this scene with a woodcut of the (living) queen from Oudot's 1641-edition (picture to the right).

But the woodcut is not the same, as the one illustrating the living queen (to the left), which is an inferior copy without plants in the background.

The cardinal is signed "VERNIE".
Troyes Vernie

Something similar happens with the dead king. He is also illustrated with an image of the living king, but in this case the same inferior copy is used in both places. Incidentally this woodcut is the only one that has been signed: Below the cardinal and king is written "VERNIE", so the woodcutter was apparently named Vernier.

Astrologer and citizen get the good copy.
Garnier, Astrologer and citizen
Lawyer and minstrel get the bad copy.
Garnier, Lawyer and minstrel

We saw on the previous page about Oudot, how the woodcut with astrologer and citizen must have disappeared and how the publisher instead had used the woodcut with lawyer and minstrel twice.

It still holds true that only the existing woodcuts get copied. Garnier didn't have an examplar of Miroer Salutaire, and once an image was gone, it was gone.

On the other hand he had two sets of copies, so he used the good copy of lawyer and minstrel for illustrating astrologer and citizen (picture to the left), while lawyer and minstrel themselves got the bad copy (picture to the right).

The authority is a corpse.
Garnier, Troyes 1766
The authority is the month of April.
Garnier, Authority

The publishers have been very creative when they had to illustrate the authorities that introduce the two dances. The have dug deeply into the chest with (copies of) old woodcuts from the old shepherd's calendars.

The authority who introduces the men's dance is illustrated with a woodcut of a corpse with a coffin, while the authority, who introduces the women's dance, is illustrated with a image of the month of April.

Some of the copies are naïve, while others are very precise (but they are still copies of copies). For instance the two woodcuts of the lawyer and minstrel are very similar except that all the plants in the background have been removed on the copy. However, the copier has made a blunder, because on the good copy (the one that was used for astrologer and citizen) the Death to the left has two feet, but on the copy, one of the feet (the one the dart points to) has been transformed into a fold in the lawyer's skirt.

The most exact copy is the citizeness and widow. The same image is used for spinster maid and Franciscan nun, and the differences are microscopic, except that the former is lacking the frame.

This book probably represents the last edition ever in Troyes before the blocks were republished in Paris in 1862.(4) Socard writes (quoted above) that the family continued issuing the book in the name of Jean-Antoine and with the same year in the period from 1780 to 1820, and to this day these "1728-editions" are regularly put up for sale on the Internet. Socard's remark is a bit cryptic, for the various copies don't just have the same date; the front pages are identical. For instance, "La Complainte" is spellled "La Camplainte", and the first "v" in the word "vivre" is very faint, while the "e" always is upside-down. There are errors in the page numbers: page 31 is labeled "29", while the number 32 is printed upside-down.

This edition contains the sum of all changes introduced by Garnier's predecessors. Every single publisher has copied the variants of his predecessors and in those cases where new copies have been produced, it has only been possible to copy those woodcuts that hadn't perished in the mean time.

The changes are as follows:

  1. Astrologer and citizen are are illustrated with a image of lawyer and minstrel.
  2. The woodcut of the regent and knight's wife has been interchanged with that of the merchant's and bailiff's wife.
  3. Abbess and noblewoman are illustrated med nun and witch (so the " noblewoman" stands with a witch's broom in her hand).
  4. Shepherdess and the woman with crutches interchange their position with prioress and young lady.
  5. Spinster maid and Franciscan nun moves one step in front of the chambermaid and housekeeper.
  6. Spinster maid and Franciscan nun are illustrated with citizeness and widow (i.e the woodcut is used twice).
  7. Nun and witch are illustrated with the merchant's and bailiff's wife (this woodcut is used twice, but not for the merchant's and bailiff's wife).
  8. Random images are used for the two authorities.
  9. The text has changed thoroughly, as described on the page about Oudot.


The woodcuts had another renaissance in 1862.


Garnier 1766: Authority
Four Musicians
Garnier 1766: Four Musicians
Pope and Emperor
Garnier 1766: Pope and Emperor
Cardinal and king
Garnier 1766: Cardinal and king
Legate and Duke
Garnier 1766: Legate and Duke
Patriarch and Connétable
Garnier 1766: Patriarch and Connétable
Archbishop and knight
Garnier 1766: Archbishop and knight
Bishop and nobleman
Garnier 1766: Bishop and nobleman
Abbot and bailiff
Garnier 1766: Abbot and bailiff
Astrologer and citizen
Garnier 1766: Astrologer and citizen
Canon and merchant
Garnier 1766: Canon and merchant
Schoolmaster and soldier
Garnier 1766: Schoolmaster and soldier
Carthusian and sergeant
Garnier 1766: Carthusian and sergeant
Monk and usurer
Garnier 1766: Monk and usurer
Physician and suitor
Garnier 1766: Physician and suitor
Lawyer and minstrel
Garnier 1766: Lawyer and minstrel
Priest and peasant
Garnier 1766: Priest and peasant
Promoter and jailor
Garnier 1766: Promoter and jailor
Pilgrim and shepherd
Garnier 1766: Pilgrim and shepherd
Franciscan monk and child
Garnier 1766: Franciscan monk and child
Clerk and hermit
Garnier 1766: Clerk and hermit
Halberdier and fool
Garnier 1766: Halberdier and fool
Garnier 1766: Authority
Four musicians
Garnier 1766: Four musicians
Queen and duchess
Garnier 1766: Queen and duchess
Regent and knight's wife
Garnier 1766: Regent and knight's wife
Abbess and noblewoman
Garnier 1766: Abbess and noblewoman
Shepherdess and crutches
Garnier 1766: Shepherdess and crutches
Citizeness and widow
Garnier 1766: Citizeness and widow
Merchant's and bailiff's wife
Garnier 1766: Merchant's and bailiff's wife
Bride and darling wife
Garnier 1766: Bride and darling wife
Virgin and theologian
Garnier 1766: Virgin and theologian
Newly-wed and pregnant
Garnier 1766: Newly-wed and pregnant
Spinster and Franciscan nun
Garnier 1766: Spinster and Franciscan nun
Chambermaid and housekeeper
Garnier 1766: Chambermaid and housekeeper
Hospitable woman and wet nurse
Garnier 1766: Hospitable woman and wet nurse
Prioress and young woman
Garnier 1766: Prioress and young woman
Peasant woman and old woman
Garnier 1766: Peasant woman and old woman
Resales woman and suitoress
Garnier 1766: Resales woman and suitoress
Midwife and young girl
Garnier 1766: Midwife and young girl
Nun and witch
Garnier 1766: Nun and witch
Bigot woman and fool
Garnier 1766: Bigot woman and fool
Dead queen and authority
Garnier 1766: Dead queen and authority
La dance aux aveugles
Garnier 1766: La dance aux aveugles
Troyes 1766
Garnier 1766: Troyes 1766
Troyes 1766
Garnier 1766: Troyes 1766
Troyes 1766
Garnier 1766: Troyes 1766
Troyes 1766
Garnier 1766: Troyes 1766
Astrologer and citizen
Garnier 1766: Astrologer and citizen
Lawyer and minstrel
Garnier 1766: Lawyer and minstrel
Troyes 1766
Garnier 1766: Troyes 1766
Troyes 1766
Garnier 1766: Troyes 1766
Troyes 1766
Garnier 1766: Troyes 1766

External Links

Further Information

Footnotes: (1) (2) (3) (4)

Alexis Socard. Livres populaires imprimés à Troyes de 1600 à 1800, 1864, page 126.

Ce privilège de 1728 n'est autre chose qu'un passeport périmé, dont Jean-Antoine se servait indûment, puisque les dates extrêmes de son passage dans l'imprimerie sont de 1766 à 1773. Comme sa grand'mère et son père Jean Garnier l'avaient fait avant lui, Jean-Antoine insérait à la fin de ses éditions les privilèges accordés au chef de la famille, mort en décembre 1738.

On le voit, la date des Permissions sur les ouvrages des successeurs de Pierre Garnier n'est jamais la date réelle qu'on doive assigner au livre lui-même.


Cet imprimeur, ainsi que ses successeurs, trompèrent donc les acheteurs en leur vendant un livre de 1773, comme étant de 1728, et les derniers Garnier firent pis encore en imprimant, de 1780 à 1820, le même livre avec la date primitive. Ibid, pages 126-127.

This table is based on the short biographies in Les Garnier, imprimeurs et libraires à Troyes by Louis Morin, 1900.

A large number of the woodcuts were reproduced in the book Illustration de l'ancienne imprimerie troyenne. 210 gravures sur bois, 1850. The print run was as low as 80, and of course the text from La Danse Macabre was not included.

Woodcut no. 30 (chambermaid and housekeeper) might even have been one of the original cuts from Paris, 1491.