Danse Macabre (Notke)
|Year||Late 15th century|
|Medium||oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||157 cm × 210 cm (62 in × 83 in)|
|Location||St Nicholas' Church, Tallinn|
The Dance of Death theme is frequent in the art and literature of the late Middle Ages, where it functions as a memento mori, the admonition that all must die. The skeletal figure of Death dances with mortals, hierarchically arranged to begin with popes and emperors and ending with peasants, fools, or infants.
Created at the end of the 15th century, Bernt Notke's Tallinn fragment reproduces the artist's work in St. Mary's Church in Lübeck. The Lübeck work is no longer extant, but a copy was made by the painter Anton Wortmann in 1701.
The Tallinn version as preserved begins with the thirteenth figure; it is not certain how many figures the work originally depicted. Not recorded in the accounting records of St. Nicholas up to 1520, Notke's painting was most likely commissioned and paid for by private donors, a guild, or a brotherhood.
The surviving fragment was restored in Moscow between 1962 and 1964 by P. Baranov, S. Globacheva, S. Titov, and G. Karlsen under the direction of V. Karaseva.
- Media related to Danse Macabre (Tallinn) at Wikimedia Commons