The dance of death. Lithograph after A. Dauzats, 1831.

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Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l'ancienne France
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About this work


This lithograph is a copy of a fresco in the Benedictine abbey La Chaise Dieu in Auvergne in the south of France. It was painted by an unknown master between 1390 and 1410. The fresco covered three walls of the church and depicted a continuous chain of dancers, both dead and alive. In this early example of the dance of death, the skeletons do not yet depict a personification of death but rather the dead. Unlike subsequent depictions of this genre, the La Chaise Dieu fresco was not accompanied by a text

The topic of the dance of death appeared for the first time in the second half of the fourteenth century and especially in the fifteenth century. From the sixteenth century onwards, images of this genre became more frequent but they do not necessarily depict an entire dance of death as depictions may be broken up into groups. Originally, these chains of dancers were painted as frescos in cloisters and on the walls of churchyards. The early depictions of the dance of death which were mostly commissioned by the Catholic Church, had a specific purpose: the viewers of these images were to be reminded of the transience of life, the uncertainty of the hour of death and the relentlessness of death. Death does not distinguish between class, profession, age or gender but equalizes everyone.


[Place of publication not identified] : [publisher not identified] ([Place of manufacture not identified] : Lith. de Engelmann)

Physical description

1 print : lithograph ; image 31.5 x 45.4 cm.


Danse macarbe ou danse des morts. Fresques de l'Abbaye de la Chaise-Dieu. Auvergne. Dauzats, 1831. Bears number: T. 146. ter

References note

Not found in: Jean Adhémar and Jacques Lethève, Inventaire du fonds français après 1800, Bibliothèque nationale, Département des estampes, tome sixième, Paris 1953, pp. 8-22 (inventory of lithographs by A. Dauzats)


Wellcome Collection 28903i



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