The Usurer

Usurer
The usurer
Milde shows it correctly.
Hauttmann, three figures
Suhl erroneously shows one dead and two living people.
Suhl, three figures

There is plenty of room between Death and his next victim, the usurer. This is due to the simple fact that the painting here meets the corner of the wall and has to make a 90° turn.

Anton Wortmann has used to space to add a little group consisting of three figures. This begets of course the question of what was at this place in the old painting from 1463.

As can be seen in the picture to the left, the group is made up of two cadavers with feather-plumed hats. One dead man plays his violin while the other one tries to lure a living woman into the dance. These Deaths seem like a repeat of the Death that begins the dance.

Suhl, in contrast, shows it incorrectly (detail to the right). In his version there is one Death playing flute for two living people.

Ludewig SuhlThomas Nugent

    der Tod
Ich fordre deinen Rest, als einen Zins von dir,
Zahl ab und laß die Last des schweren Beutels hier,
Ein Geitzhals hat noch nie den Geldsack mitgenommen,
Warum? weil kein Cameel durchs Nadelöhr kan kommen.(1)

    XXX. Death to the Usurer.
Come down my friend, with all your pelf,
I claim the principal myself:
The interest too I'll not abate,
However I incur your hate.
I know thy narrow soul doth cry,
To part with that more than to die;
Yet never miser came this way,
But down his dearest gold must lay.

 

    der Wucherer
Wahr ists ich liebte nichts, als Wucher und Gewinn,
Und merke, das ich arm beym Reichthum worden bin,
Mein Capital ist fort, die Zinsen sind zerstoben,
Ach! hætt ich einen Schatz im Himmel aufgehoben.(2)

    XXXI. Usurer's answer.
In truth, I own my thought were such,
They ran on usury too much;
But with immensity of store,
The wretch that begs from door to door,
Was ne'er so miserably poor.
Ah were my soul once more to rise,
I'd set my wealth above the skies,(2)
Where Death and all his ghastly train
Should seek for treasure all in vain.

Footnotes: (1) (2)

This famous quote about the camel and the needle is from Matthew 19:24, "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (also Mark 10:25 and Luke 18:25).

lay up a treasure in Heaven. . .: Popular subject in the Bible (and the church!). See for instance Matthew 19:21, "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me" (see also Matthew 6:19-20, Mark 10:21, Luke 12:33 and Luke 18:22).