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Dance of Death

century medieval social skeletons

The Dance of Death (or Danse macabre ), a subject which became especially popular in late medieval art and literature, reflects the increasing preoccupation with mortality in the wake of the bubonic plague, which first swept through Europe in the mid-fourteenth century. Images of *death and the *Last Judgment are, however, found in earlier medieval art, and sermons, literary works, and dramas elucidating the unselective nature of death also predate the development of the specific pictorial iconography of the Dance of Death in the early fifteenth century. The image involves a procession of people, of all social classes, accompanied by skeletons. The first recorded example is a (now destroyed) fresco cycle in the Parisian Cemetery of the Innocents (1424). These images were reproduced in woodcuts by the late fifteenth century, during which period the imagery was widely disseminated. The theme emphasizes that men and women, rich and poor, kings, clerics and laypersons alike will all be taken by death. The different social classes are carefully indicated; the figures are touched or pulled along by skeletons holding arrows, scythes, shovels, shrouds, coffin lids, and other appropriate objects.
Dancy, John C.(1888–1968) - Business executive, community activist, Chronology,   [next] [back] Dance in Visual Art - DRAWN FIGURES., REPRESENTING DANCERS., CHOOSING POSES., TEXTUAL SOURCES., SOURCES

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