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Imprint: Copenhagen, J. H. Schubothe, 1814
Small 4to., more-or-less contemporary marbled boards with a morocco spine label and a gilt cypher on the cover (by Gustave Hedberg, Stockholm, with his ticket).Woodcut title-page with two skulls followed by 36 large (5 x 5 1/4 inch) woodcuts and verses devoted to the Dance of Death. Although the theme is traditional--Death in the form of a skeleton ushers away people of every class to their final reward: the Pope, Emperor, King, Queen, right on down to the child and the humble beggar--the artistic treatment of the figures is quite unlike anything by Holbein or Hollar in the 16th and 17th centuries, or for that matter Matthias Merian, or Bewick a century later. Printed on a rough-textured paper altogether appropriate for these "FOLK ART" DEPICTIONS, the scenes (each of which is attractively framed) are more satirical or playful than frightening. Each is accompanied by twenty-eight lines of verse, set in gothic type. The final image is that of Jesus Christ triumphing over Death.We found JUST TWO REFERENCES. The Minns Catalogue ("The Dance of Death," a Collection sold in New York by AAA in 1922. No. 63), calls it "[a] rare and curious Dance of Death, not listed by Bibliographers." Aldred Scott Warthin, The Physician of the Dance of Death (NY, 1931, pp. 83-84), writes, "A Danish version of the Dance of Death is given in a series of curious woodcuts issued in Copenhagen in 1814..." He goes on to describe the general caracteristics of the book before looking closely at the figure of the Physician, the subject of his study, "It is a simple, naive, conventional representation of the subject." He then reports, "In 1838, an edition, Det Menskliga Lifwets, was published in Fahlun, Sweden. The same woodcuts used in the Danish edition are repeated, reduced in size and reversed [a reproduction of the Physician appears on p. 80]." Although the title-page calls it the third edition, neither of these two references mention any earlier appearance of the book. We found NO COPY OF ANY EDITION IN THE BRITISH LIBRARY. Indeed, a very fine copy of a RARE AND CURIOUS DANCE OF DEATH.
"Rare and Curious Danish Dance of Death"