Danse Macabre (Notke)

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Danse Macabre
Bernt Notke Danse Macabre.jpg
ArtistBernt Notke
YearLate 15th century (Late 15th century)
Mediumoil on canvas
Dimensions157 cm × 210 cm (62 in × 83 in)
LocationSt Nicholas' Church, Tallinn

Danse Macabre is a painting by Bernt Notke. A fragment of the late fifteenth-century painting, originally some 30 meters (98.4 ft) wide, is displayed in the St. Nicholas Church, Tallinn.[1][2]

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.[3]

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.[3]

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.


  1. ^ "The Dance of Death in Tallinn". Dodedans.com. 1944-03-09. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  2. ^ "Danse Macabre | Bernt Notke - Europeana". Europeana.eu. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  3. ^ a b Anu Mänd, Bernt Notke. Uuenduste ja traditsioonide vahel, näituse kataloog, Eesti Kunstimuuseum, 2010

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