Danse macabre, Troyes, ca. 1700

Troyes, ca. 1700
Troyes 1700
Troyes, ca. 1700
Troyes 1700

On the previous pages we saw how Nicolas Oudot ca. 1600 published the original woodcuts and Nicolas II Oudot in 1641 published copies of the Parisian Danse Macabre.

The book that we see here was also printed by an Oudot. This time it is Jacques Oudot, and the book is from ca. 1700. The front page shows one of those copies that Nicolas II Oudot used in 1641.

The woodcuts with abbess and noblewoman and spinster maid and Franciscan nun are still missing as they have been at least since 1531. Jacques Oudot has selected to illustrate the abbess and noblewoman with the woodcut of nun and witch with the rather odd result that the "noblewoman" stands with a broom in her hand.

The image of spinster maid and Franciscan nun is still a reuse of citizeness and widow, and the prioress and young woman have still traded places with the shepherdess and the woman with crutches.

Over time the contents have become more and more mutated. The scene with spinster maid and Franciscan nun (illustrated with the image of citizeness and widow) has for inscrutable reasons been moved one step ahead before the chambermaid and housekeeper. For equally inscrutable reasons the images of regent and knight's wife and merchant's wife and bailiff's wife are interchanged.

The same thing is true for the rest of the images. The authority at the beginning has been replaced by an image of "April" from a shepherd's calendar, and the final authority looks like a man asleep at his writing desk (see the pictures below).

La grande danse macabée
Troyes, 1729
1729
The text says "astrologer" and citizen, but the picture shows lawyer and minstrel.
Astrologer and citizen

The book to the left was printed in 1729 by the next generation, viz. Jacques Oudot's widow and son. Unfortunately the books in the so-called "bibliothèque bleue" were printed on cheap paper where the ink bleeds through.

There has been one more change for evidently the woodcut with (the copy of) astrologer and citizen has disappeared. As the picture to the right shows, the publisher has instead used (the copy of) lawyer and minstrel.

It is not just the images and the sequence that has been changed. Along the road, the text has become as mutated as the images. The front pages of the various editions boast that the old Gaul language has been, »renouvellée de vieux Gaulois, en langage le plus poli de notre temps«, but the truth is that the language hasn't just been "renovated and polished". The text has been extensively re-written.

Here are the first two verses as an example:

14861729
O creature roysonnable
Qui desires vie eternelle.
Tu as cy doctrine notable:
Pour bien finer vie mortelle.
La dance macabre sapelle:
Que chascun a danser apprant.
A homme et femme est naturelle.
Mort nespargne petit ne grant
O Créature raisonnable,
Qui desirez le Firmament,
Voici ton portrait veritable
Afin de mourir saintement,
C'est la Danse des Macabées,
Où chacun à danser apprend,
Car la Parque, cette obstinée,
N'épargne ny petit ny Grand

En ce miroer chascun peut lire
Qui le convient ainsi danser.
Saige est celuy qui bien si mire.
Le mort le vif fait avancer.
Tu vois les plus grans commancer
Car il nest nul que mort ne fiere:
Cest piteuse chose y panser.
Tout est forgie dune matiere.

Dans ce miroir chacun peut lire,
Qu'il lui convient icy danser,
Sage est celui qui bien s'y mie,
Quand la mort le viendra presser,
Le plus Grand s'en va commencer,
Car il n'est nul que la mort fiere,
O! qu'il est facheux d'y penser,
Ne porte dans le Cimetiere.

Ca. 1700: The authority is a picture of the month of April from Calendrier et compost des bergiers.
Authority
Ca. 1700: The dead king and the authority at the end is illustrated with a sleepyman sitting at a desk.
Authority
Ca. 1700: The authority at the beginning of the women's dance is a copy of the woodcut from 1491.
Authority
1729: The authority is a corpse from Calendrier et compost des bergiers.
Authority

But the changes don't stop here. They continued after 1766

Troyes,
after 1766

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