Lübeck's Dance of Death

Pictures of the Dance of Death

Lübeck's dance of death has been reproduced in watercolours, copperplates, lithographs, photographs, and tin figurines and I wouldn't be surprised if - one day - the burghers of Lübeck made figurines out of Niederegger-marzipan.(1)

This section presents several different depictions of the painting.

Ludewig Suhl (1783)

Back in 1783 there was still a duke in the dance.
Bishop, duke and abbot from Lübeck's dance of death

Young man and woman from Lübeck's dance of death The first person to reproduce the painting was the vicar and juror Ludewig Suhl who painted watercolours like the one to the left. These were later published as copper engravings along with the old Low German text from 1463 as well as the "new" text from 1701.

On the present site, Suhl's engravings are used for illustrating the new text from 1701 along with Robert Nugent's translation.

More about Ludewig Suhl

Anonymous (ca. 1827)

Lübeck, ca. 1827

Eight lithographs that are copied after Suhl, and include all of Suhl's mistakes and deviations. The duke and "his" Death has also been copied from Suhl, even though the duke had been removed from the painting in 1799. The background has been toned down to put emphasis on the dancers.

The lithographs don't indicate neither printery nor year, but since there wasn't any lithographic printeries in Lübeck before 1827, this gives us an idea about the year.

Hauttmann (1829)

Lübeck, Hauttmann

Hauttmann correctly shows two corpses, one of which plays the fiddle.
Hauttmann, three figures
Hauttmann's figures are weirdly stretched and longish, but he has studied the painting instead of simply copying Suhl.

More about Hauttmann.

The Brothers Borchers (1831)

Lübeck, The Brothers Borchers The Brothers Borchers' reproduction are based on Hauttmann. All details in the background have been removed.

More about Brothers Borchers.

J. G. Tiedemann (ca. 1832)

Lübeck, Tiedemann Four sheets of paper glued together. The text takes up a lot of the space.

The artwork is very similar to those the Brothers Borchers — both concerning size and style, but they are not from the same hand. Just like Borchers', these drawings are ultimately based on Hauttmann.

T. H. King (1857-58)

Lübeck, King Thomas King was an architect, but he dedicated 10 plates to Lübeck's dance in »The study-book of mediæval architecture and art« from 1857 (the plates are marked 1858).

Read more about T. H. King.

Carl Julius Milde (1866)

Death playing flute Death with scythe Carl Julius Milde was the last person ever to restore the painting. Then he made the most handsome reproductions available.

More about about Milde with images of Lübeck - including the 8 plates with the dance of death.

Robert Geißler (1868)

The start of the dance of death Robert Geißler was the first to make a colour reproduction of the painting - in 1868 - with his 5-colour lithograph. The little pictures measuring ca. 12 * 5,5 cm are not great art - but they are probably our best witnesses to the original colours.

More about Robert Geißler.


Lübeck's Dance of Death, Pope and emperor
The empress.
The empress in Lübeck
The empress.
The empress and Death

Wilhelm Castelli (1901-1984) took very detailed photographs of the painting between the two world wars (just try and click on the two pictures of the empress).

Click the picture above to go to the section with the entire dance of text - including the old text from 1463.


The dance of death in Tallinn Let us not forget that to this very day there's still a 7.5 meter fragment in Tallinn - presumably painted by Bernt Notke himself.

There's a separate section about the dance of death in Tallinn, Estonia.

External link

Pictures in this Section

More Pictures

Footnotes: (1)

Stollwerck'sche Chocolade I'm still waiting for this to happen. The Germans don't mind depicting Death on a box of chocolates. (8=