825. [Dance of Death]


Les simulachres & histoirees faces de la mort, autant elegamme[n]t pourtraictes, que artificiellement imaginees.

Lyon, M. & G. Trechsel [for J. & Fr. Frellon], 1538

4to: [28 (of 52)] ff. (lacking quires H-N containing a prose commentary; somewhat soiled and stained, some traces of use).

18th-c. mottled sheep, gilt-titled spine with 5 raised bands, marbled endpapers, sp. edges (some def. to endpapers and margins of flyleaves). In all a good copy.

First edition of the most famous, and original, incarnation of the Dance of Death in book illustration. The cycle by Hans Holbein jr (1497-1543) is a "remarkable work with its most fascinating designs of exquisite finish” (Fairfax Murray). The original work consisted of 41 small woodcuts (65x50 mm, all present in this copy) with Latin captions and French quatrains (now ascribed to Gilles Corrozet, 1510-1568). The sequence begins with religious scenes of Adam and Eve being cast from the Garden of Eden and the arrival of Death. From here, a series of scenes follow in which various victims meet Death. In a series of action-packed scenes Death intrudes on the everyday lives of thirty-four people from various levels of society - from pope to physician to ploughman. The king whom Death is serving may be a portrait of François I. The woodblocks created from Holbein’s designs are now commonly attributed to Hans Lützelburger (his monogram in the woodcut on G2r). He had cut forty-one blocks and had ten remaining when Death surprised him too in 1526. It was not until his heirs later sold the finished blocks to creditors that they ended up at the Treschel printing firm in Lyon and were first published. Holbein is not credited in the work at all. Woodcut mark on title.
Ref. SvGültlingen (Trechsel) 102 = Baudrier V:175. - Fairfax Murray (French) 247. - Mortimer (Harvard French) 284. - Pettegree FB 30025. - STC French (BL) 128. - Not in Adams.
Prov. Jacques Goethals-Vercruysse (1759-1838), Kortrijk collector and philanthropist (collector's stamp).

€ 1.500 / 2.000

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