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The Danse Macabre (the Dance of Death) is a 15th-century conceit, both pictorial and textual, of the humbling power of death. In the years following the plagues of late 14th-century Europe, it seems almost inevitable that the Danse Macabre would become a popular theme in medieval art. The Danse Macabre in Thielman Kerver’s printed Book of Hours (1507) is depicted in a series of marginal illustrations in which Death, pictured as a decomposing corpse or transi, accompanies 66 “dancers” to the afterlife. Medieval artists and their patrons could subvert attitudes toward certain figures of power by including their images in the Danse and positioning them in relation to Death and to one another.
Book and manuscript illustration, engraving, Medieval Christian art and symbolism
History of Religion | Medieval History | Medieval Studies
Paparo, Stefano, "Danse Macabre" (2018). Kerver Book of Hours: Senior Capstone 2018. 7.