28 THE DANCE OF DEATH. been done after the year 1547, as eight of them did not appear till that time. But it has entirely escaped the knowledge of all the biographers of Holbei... Show more
28 THE DANCE OF DEATH. been done after the year 1547, as eight of them did not appear till that time. But it has entirely escaped the knowledge of all the biographers of Holbein, that he painted a Dance of Death in fresco, upon the walls of the palace of Whitehall, which was consumed by fire in 1697. This curious fact is ascertained from two sets of nineteen very indifferent etchings from the wooden cuts, by one Nieuhoff; they were never published, but copies of them presented to the artist's friends, with manuscript dedications in the Dutch language, in which he speaks of the above-mentioned paintings at Whitehall. The book has the following title engraved in a border: '' Imagines Mortis, or the Dead Dance of Hans Holbeyn, Painter of King Henry the Vlllth." The author, in one of these dedications, addressed to the Right Honourable William Benting, informs him, that cc he had met with the scarce little work of H. Holbeyn in wood, which he had himself painted as large as life in fresco, on the walls of Whitehall; that he had followed the original as nearly as possible, and had presumed to lay his copy before him as being born in the same palace; that he considered the partiality which every one has for the place of his nativity, and that therefore an account of what was curie t 3 and remarkable therein, and of what was then no more, as being destroyed by a fatal fire, must of course prove acceptable, particularly as there were hardly any more re-
THE DANCE OF DEATH. 29 mains of the palace left than his own dwelling.1' He then states,, that the design of the painter resembled that of the founder of the Greek monarchy, who ordered these... Show more
THE DANCE OF DEATH. 29 mains of the palace left than his own dwelling.1' He then states,, that the design of the painter resembled that of the founder of the Greek monarchy, who ordered these words to be written, to remind him of his mortality: "Remember, Philip, that thou art a man T' and proceeds to describe in a very quaint manner the different subjects of his work. The dedication to the other copy is nearly in similar words, and addressed to Mynheer Heymans, who appears, in consideration of his singular merits, to have had a dwelling assigned him in the palace at Whitehall. From the hand-writing and Dutch names in this work, it is evidently of the time of William III. but of the artist no memorial is preserved ; however, the importance of the fact which he has recorded, will render him a valuable personage in the opinion of the lovers of the arts. After what has been said then, it is to be hoped that no additional evidence will be requisite to shew that Holbein did not invent the subjects, nor execute the cuts belonging to the Dance of Death, which is usually ascribed to him; that he painted it, however, and most assuredly more than once, seems to be beyond the possibility of doubt. It only remains to give some account of the prints which are the immediate object of this publication, and to which it is hoped the preceding introduction will not have appeared uninteresting. It has been commonly supposed that Hollar copied these prints from the original cuts; but Mr.
30 THE DANCE OF DEATH. Coxe* thinks he followed the drawings engraved by De Mechel, which he imagines to have been in the Arundeljan collection. Both these opinions seem erroneous ; for many ... Show more
30 THE DANCE OF DEATH. Coxe* thinks he followed the drawings engraved by De Mechel, which he imagines to have been in the Arundeljan collection. Both these opinions seem erroneous ; for many of Hollar's prints are materially different, as well from the cuts as the drawings ; and are, with two or three exceptions, very close copies of the cuts already mentioned to have been first published in 1555, with the mark of J f. He must therefore have either had before him both the sets of wooden cuts, or have copied the paintings at Whitehall; for his acknowledged fidelity would have hardly suffered him to depart from his originals, whatever they were, and as they now remain, they are not correct copies of any single existing model. Hollar's prints were first published in 1651J, with borders designed by Abraham a Diepenbeke, and afterwards without the borders. In this latter impression the letters^, i. occur upon everyprint, and are intended for cc Holbein invenit," as ap- ? Travels in Swisserland. f It is not a little remarkable, that almost the same variations from the original cuts, are to be found in those of the edition of 1555, in De Mechel's prints, and in Hollar's etchings; a circumstance which renders it probable that these last were all copied from the same originals, which might have been the work of Holbein, to whom the variations may be likewise attributed. | In 1682 there appeared engraved copies of the Dance of Death, in a work entitled " Theatrum mortis humanze," by J. Weichard. These engravings are within borders of fruit, flowers, and animals, which are executed with an uncommon degree of elegance.
THE DANCE OF DEATH. 31 pears from some other of Hollar's prints, which have upon them these words at length. No panegyric is here wanting upon the works of this admirable artist... Show more
THE DANCE OF DEATH. 31 pears from some other of Hollar's prints, which have upon them these words at length. No panegyric is here wanting upon the works of this admirable artist; they are sufficiently known and esteemed by every collector of taste, and particularly his Dance of Death. The plates, which appear to have been but little used, have been till lately preserved in a noble family, and impressions from them are once more presented to the public, without the least alteration*. Vertue, in his description of Hollar's works, mentions that he engraved a reverse of the first print, an additional one without a border, repre-sentingtherich man disregarding the prayers of the poor; and three others from the set after Holbein, with four Latin verses at bottom. He also engraved the six first letters of the alphabet, adorned with small figures of a Death's Dance, and one large plate of the same subject for Dug-dale's St. Paul's, and the Monasticon ; but this last plate is only a copy from an old wooden cut prefixed to Lydgate's Dance of Macaber, at the end of his Fall of Princes, printed by Tottell in 1554, and was not intended to represent the Dance of Death at St. Paul's, as Mr. Warton has sup-posedf, but only as an emblematical frontispiece to the verses. * In the present edition, however, it was found requisite that the plates should be retouched, and it has been done with the utmost attention to the preservation of their original spirit and character. f Observ. on Spencer, vol. ii. 117.
w THE DANCE OF DEATH. 35 PLATE I.THE FRONTISPIECE. It has been supposed by Papillon, without the least authority, or even probability, that the two figures represent the persons for whom Holb... Show more
w THE DANCE OF DEATH. 35 PLATE I.THE FRONTISPIECE. It has been supposed by Papillon, without the least authority, or even probability, that the two figures represent the persons for whom Holbein painted this work. It has been already shewn that Holbein did not design this plate. It is altogether emblematical, and appears to be an heraldical representation of mortality, viz. a tattered shield, surmounted with a death's head; the crest, an hour-glass between two arms of a skeleton, holding part of a skull. The two figures are probably intended for supporters, and represent the dress of the Swiss Nobility of the sixteenth century. The " MORTALIVM NO-BILITAS" was added by Hollar, and is a very concise and admirable explanation of the subject.
36 THE DANCE OF DEATH. PLATE II.SIN. Because thou hast harkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is ... Show more
36 THE DANCE OF DEATH. PLATE II.SIN. Because thou hast harkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake, &c. Gen. iii. 17. Holbein has begun the scenes of life by that which had such influence on all the rest. The Mother of the human race holds in her right hand., the fatal apple,, which she has just received from the serpent with a young man's head ; and Adam, at the same time, is plucking another, enticed by the solicitations of the too credulous Eve, who shews him the one she has received, PLANCHE II.LE PECHE. Holbein a commence ces scenes de la vie par celle qui eut tant d'influence sur toutes les autres. La Mere du genre humain, tient dans sa main droite, la pomme fatale qu'elle vient de recevoir du serpent a tete de jeune homme, & Adam en cueille en meme terns une autre, excitd par les sollicitations de la trop credule Eve, qui lui montre celle qu'elle a rec^ie.
THE DANCE OF DEATH, PLATE III.PUNISHMENT. Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. Gen. iii. 23. Our first ... Show more
THE DANCE OF DEATH, PLATE III.PUNISHMENT. Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. Gen. iii. 23. Our first Parents, driven out by the Angel, are flying from the terrestrial Paradise, preceded by Death, who is playing on the fiddle, and shews by dancing, the joy he feels for his triumph. PLANCHE III.LA PUNITION. Nos premiers Parens chasses par PAnge, s'enfuyent du Paradis terrestre precedes de la Mort, qui joue de la guitare, & demontre en dansant la joie qu'elle ressent de son triomphe.
38 THE DANCE OF DEATH. PLATE IV.CONDEMNATION TO LABOUR. Cursed is the earth for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. ... Show more
38 THE DANCE OF DEATH. PLATE IV.CONDEMNATION TO LABOUR. Cursed is the earth for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Gen. iii. 17. Holbein,, to mark at once the species of labour which is the lot of man, and that which falls to the share of the woman, represents Adam employed in rooting up a tree, along with Death, who helps him with all his might; and at a little distance Eve suckling her child, and holding a distaff. PLANCHE IV.LA CONDEMNATION AU TRAVAIL. Holbein, pour marquer en merae terns le genre de travail qui est lepartage de Phormne, & celui qui est le partage de la femme, represente Adam oecupe a deraeiner tin arbre, avec la Mort qui l'aide detoutes ses forces; & un peu plus loin. Eve allaitant son enfant & tenant une quenouille.
THE DANCE OF DEATH. PLATE V.THE POPE CROWNING AN EMPEROR. bind his Princes at his pleasure, and teach his Senators wisdom. v ... Show more
THE DANCE OF DEATH. PLATE V.THE POPE CROWNING AN EMPEROR. bind his Princes at his pleasure, and teach his Senators wisdom. v Psalm cv. 2 A cardinal and three bishops are assisting at the ceremony : Death is there also under the figure of two skeletons,, one of which is dressed in cardinal's robes, the other embraces the Holy Father, with the right hand, and is leaning on a crutch with the left. PLANCHE V.LE PAPE COURONNANT UN EMPEREUR. Un cardinal & trois eveques assistent a cette ceremonie: la Mort s'y trouve aussi sous la figure de deux squelettes, dont Pun est revStu des habits de cardinal; l'autre embrasse le St. Pere de la main droite, et s'appuie de la gauche sur une bequille.
THE DANCE OF DEATH. PLATE V7.THE EMPEROR. Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live. Isaiah, xxxviii. 1. Seated on a throne, and holding in his hand the sword of state,, he i... Show more
THE DANCE OF DEATH. PLATE V7.THE EMPEROR. Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live. Isaiah, xxxviii. 1. Seated on a throne, and holding in his hand the sword of state,, he is attentively listening to an advocate pleading in a soothing tone, against an unfortunate peasant, who trembling waits, in the most suppliant posture, the decree that is to determine his fate. Death at this moment displays all his power; he proudly takes possession of the bottom of the throne, and is carelessly leaning his arm on the Monarch's crown. The angry aspect with which the Emperor views the advocate and his two clients, who are seen standing with their heads uncovered, is a happy presage for the poor oppressed peasant. PLANCHE VI.L'EMPEREUR. Assis sur son trflne, & tenant dans sa main le glaive de l'empire, il ecoute attentivement un avocat qui plaide d'un ton doucereux contre un rnalheureux paysan, tandis que celui-ci attend en tremblant, & dans la posture la plus suppliante/ J'arret qui doit decider de son sort. La Mort developpe en ce moment toute sa puissance; elle occupe fierement la fond du trone, & appuie non-chalemment son bras sur la couronne du Monarque. I/air irrite avec lequcUe Chef de TEmpire re-garde Tavocat & ses deux cliens qu'on voit, la tete decouverte, a cote de leur defenseur, est d'un hcureux presage pour le pauvre opprime.