Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki
Dance of Death

Death and the pope (detail)

Version française

Copyright (textes)
1996-2018 © Patrick Pollefeys

Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki made this dance of death in 1791. In this series of twelve engravings, Death is not dancing but interacting with people in scenes of everyday life. Death is not gloating, but very aggressive, even furious. He stabs the pope with an arrow, prepares to assassinate the king, is on the verge of killing the woman fishmonger with a scythe, and attacks a watchman. Even the general is hunted down by two Deaths, the first one riding a skeletal horse and aiming at him, while the other threatens him with his scythe. Death can be cruel; she attacks a beggar, takes a baby from his cradle while his nurse sleeps, and attacks a mother under the very eyes of her children. Chodowiecki has included several traditional scenes in his dance of death,like Death striking terror into people at the queen’s court or Death coming between the doctor and his patient. These themes have been often included in dances of death or other single works. Chodowiecki also added uncommon characters, as the prostitute or the aristocrat. While Death attacks him, he points out his family's arms to Her. Like always, the rich and the poor suffer the same death.