Holbein, Dance of Death
[Dance of Death]. Les simulachres & historiees faces de la Mort, autant elegamment pourtraictes, que artificiellement imaginées.
Lyon: [Melchior and Gaspar Trechsel], 1538. (BRA0001)
The anonymous Lyon edition of the “Dance of Death,” the first to be illustrated with woodcuts designed by Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1498–1543), was banned by the Faculty of Theology in 1551 because it parodied the morals of the clergy and all secular walks of life. Accompanying each woodcut is a related passage of Scripture in Latin, with its equivalent in French verse. In one of the most engaging openings, the woodcut on the left shows the skeletal figure of Death taking a mendicant friar so that he will no longer have to beg for a living; on the right, as Death extinguishes the candle on the altar, a young nun is distracted from her prayers by the handsome lute player who sits on her bed.