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Lot 05058
"Holbein's Dance of Death. Exhibited in Elegant Engravings on Wood, With a Dissertation on the several Representations of that Subject", by Francis Douce, ESQ. F.A.S. also Holbein's Bible Cuts, consisting of Ninety Illustrations on Wood with INTRODUCTION by Thos. Frognall Dibdin, published by George Bell, London in 1872.

The book includes "Dance of Death", dissertation by Francis Douce; Death Alphabet, complete set of engravings of the Dance of the Death in original size with English titles in Latin and English under the plates; Introduction to Bible Engravings; 90 Bible cuts with English titles and English KJ Scripture passage under each engraving, on the opposite page are the Latin, French, Italian and Spanish versions.

Hans Holbein, the Younger of Augsburg (Augsburg 1497 - London 1543) lived in an age of religious and political unrest. Holbein's father, brother, and uncle were all artists but Hans is by far the best known. He began his career in his father's workshop but by 1515 he and his brother were in Basel working for a local painter. Among the many scholars living in Basel at that time was the famous Dutch humanist Erasmus, who befriended the young artist and asked him to illustrate his satire, "Encomium Moriae" ("The Praise of Folly"). Holbein also illustrated other books, including Martin Luther's German translation of the Bible. In addition he painted pictures and portraits and, like his father, designed stained-glass windows. He also created designs for a series of 41 woodcuts called "The Dance of Death". Many of his early works were religious but show his gift for realism rather than his devotion.

He was known principally as a portrait artist. His international reputation to this end was established by three portraits of Erasmus, which he produced in 1523. About 1525, the factional strife that accompanied the Reformation made Basel a difficult place for an artist to work. In 1526, Holbein, carrying a letter of introduction from Erasmus to the English statesman and author Sir Thomas More, set out for London. His services were much in demand. The more than 100 miniature and full-size portraits he completed at Henry's court provide a remarkable document of that colorful period. Aside from his books and portraits Holbein was also well known as a decorator although only sketches and miniatures of his work have survived.

Holbein and Luetzelburger [the engraver] employed the concept of independent scenes and Bible-quotes in their "great" "Dance of Death". They were cut between 1522 (when Luetzelburger came to Basel) and 1526 (the year Luetzelburger died) and several proofs (with 40 woodcuts) were produced in the 1520's. The first real publication was in Lyon in 1538, with the addition of the astronomer - making a total of 41 woodcuts. Bible quotes were placed above the pictures (just as in Holbein's alphabet) and Gilles Corrozet wrote a quatrain below each picture.

The "Dance of Death" was published without the name of Holbein - this was probably because of the critical attitude toward the Catholic Church. The "Dance of Death" quickly became immensely popular and was reprinted, more pictures were added - and countless imitations were made. Holbein's "Dance of Death" came to define the genre - so in a way Holbein meant the end of "the real" dances of death. So Holbein altered the "Dance of Death" into a sequence of everyday scenes where Death is about to catch the humans - who are often at the peak of their careers.

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US: Priority (c 2-4 days) - $14.50

Canada:
Priority (c. 2-6 weeks) --- $27.50
Express (c 5-7 days) ------ $44.50

World:
Priority (c.2-8 weeks) ---- $37.50
Express (c 5-10 days) ----- $65.50

Condition

Hard boards, cloth with paste on marbled papers [repair or eventually rebound]; leather spine [wear and repairs]; 5" x 7.1/4", publisher's advertising; frontispiece; Preface; 218 pages "Dance of Death", by Francis Douce; Death Alphabeth, complete set of engravings of the "Dance of the Death" in original size; with English titles; Latin and English under the plates; Introduction to Bible Engravings; 90 Bible cuts with English titles and English Scripture passage under each engraving, on the opposite page are the Latin, French, Italian and Spanish versions. A few page edge creases, a few page corner folds, a little soiling, very good binding and condition. [l5ca]

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Holbein Dance of Death, Francis Douce, Bible Cuts, 1872

Estimate $250 - $350
19d6h7m12s
$90
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