Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death

"The Child" - cropped

Universality is a common theme in the Danse Macabre as the skeletal figures are often situated with both commoners and aristocrats. It is therefore not surprising that the Danse Macabre was often used for societal critique. Hans Holbein the Younger was a German-Swiss painter and printmaker during the Northern Renaissance, notable for being the court painter for Henry VIII of England. His forty-one Dance of Death woodcuts, created between 1523 and 1526, were a controversial look at the medieval Danse Macabre and possessed a Reformist, satirical tone. Often featured were ghastly images of Catholic leaders such as the pope, the Holy Roman emperor, and a knight.