Deuchar's Dance of Death at
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120 Main Street, Upton MA 01568-6193; 800-809-3343

Last updated: 6/23/2019
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"The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters":

Goya’s Caprichos etchings (1799), Durer's Ship of Fools woodcuts (1494), David Deuchar’s etchings (1786) after Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death, John Martin’s Paradise Lost mezzotints (1823-25), and Georges Rouault’s Miserere mixed-media intaglios (1922-1928)
Deuchar / Deuchar 2 / Deuchar 3 / Deuchar 4

David Deuchar’s etchings (1786) after Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death

David Deuchar published (c. 1786) a set of etchings based upon Hans Holbein’s early 16th-century series of woodcuts on the theme of the "Dance of Death," originally published in 1538 as Les simulachres & histories faces de la mort. Holbein, working shortly after the Reformation had thrown all Europe into chaos, was a congenial inspiration to Deuchar, working shortly after the American revolution had forced the world’s greatest military power, England, to abandon the colonies it had recently fought a war to keep safe from the French. It was a war that may have contributed to the dissolution of the French Monarchy, itself shortly to experience revolution and an outbreak of terror, pushing all Europe into a series of wars that led to a revival of French power under Napoleon and then its destruction at the battle of Waterloo at the hands of the British Army and supported by the British Navy. Despite the title, Holbein and Deuchar (in the bulk of his etchings in this series) are more aligned with the memento mori tradition than that of the Dance of Death. Hamlet, holding the newly-disinterred skull of Yorick, his father's jester, is playing against this injunction to “remember death,” when he tells the skull to “get you to my lady’s chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come. Make her laugh at that” (V.i.188-90). Holbien's woodcuts and Deuchar's etchings are both designed to remind an audience that no matter how much power, authority, and wealth one may have, sooner or later death will come to take it all away. Less frequently, they also serve to remind the wretched that even wretchedness will someday end. Our impression is taken from an edition published in London in 1802.

Unless otherwise noted, all of the etchings measure 74x55mm and are printed on wove paper. All etchings also show scattered foxing, mostly in the margins. Price: $175 each.

P.S.: The actual etchings are much sharper than these scans and will be replaced by photographs as soon as we can get to them.
The Dance of Death. Young and old, rich and poor, all are invited to join in the festivites but none are allowed not to participate. Image size: 87x122mm. Price: SOLD.
Creation of Eve (plate 1). Death has not yet made an appearance.
Sin / The Fall (plate 2). Adam reaches for an apple; Eve has already taken one from a serpent with the head of a young man.
Punishment / Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise (plate 3). Death begins the dance, offering musical accompaniment on a viola da gamba.
God's punishment begins / Adam laboring and Eve nursing Cain (plate 4). God's punishment begins with Death lending a helping hand.
The Cardinal (plate 6). The newly-made Cardinal, holding the papal bull creating him a cardinal, is mocking by Death, who is playing with his hat.
The Elector (plate 7). The Elector disdainfully turns his back on a woman and her small child imploring his aid; Death chooses to seize him at the moment he refuses to aid those whom his position demanded him to help.

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