Dance of the Death (Danse Macabre) (Imago mortis)


Product No. schedel264

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Liber Chronicarum or Nuremberg Chronicle

About the Engraving:

This is one of the most sought after engravings from the Nuremberg Chronicle. It depicts the Dance of Death or Danse Macabre and is believed to have been done by Albrect Durer Dürer. The image depicts a band of dancing skeletons rising from the ground to play music and dance. The poem below the woocut translated reads:

Nothing is better than Death, nor anything worse than an unfair Life,
O great Death, you are men’s eternal rest from labor,
You relax the yoke for the aged, God willing,
And remove the heavy fetters from the necks of the vanquished,
You lift exile and break open the doors of prison,
You rescue from indignities, assigning good things to the just by lots,
And you remain unmoved, implacable by any technique,
On that day preset from the beginning, all these things you command
the peaceful soul to bear, the end of its labors having been promised,
Without you the life of the suffering is a perennial prison.

Description of the work:

This important and historic engraving is from Hartmann Schedel Liber Chronicarum, more commonly known as the Nuremberg Chronicle. This is the first edition / printing of the work. It is the Latin edition that was published 6 months prior to the German edition. Both editions were limited to 2000 printings. It was published in Nuremberg in 1493 by Anton Koberger for Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister.

The work included numerous illustrations that were completed by Michael Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff, and members of their workshop. This very likely included the young Albrecht Dürer as well. The work included maps and town views, but also chronicles historic information including the invention of the printing press, development of the game of chess, navigational voyages, and important constructions.

Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514) was a German writer, physician, and book collector. He is most remembered for his famous work Liber Chronicarum or Nuremberg Chronicle. He published some of the first printed views of many cities.

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