Death in front of the Tavern

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Plate 3 of Rethel’s Dance of Death where Death tells an audience crown and pipe are of equal weight
Third plate from Rethel's "Yet Another Dance of Death."

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The Getty Research Institute, The Internet Archive

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Description

In the third woodcut of Rethel’s Dance of Death, Death has finally reached the city. He stands at the entrance of a tavern, and on the wall behind him is pasted a poster with the words Freiheit, Gleichheit, Brüderlichkeit, (Freedom, equality, fraternity), a motto made famous by the French Revolution and featuring in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Two glasses, faintly reminiscent of mountebanks’ cups and balls trick, can be seen on the table before him as he talks a captivated audience into believing a crown and a tobacco pipe are of equal weight. A blind (according to the verse), old woman with a walking stick is the only one to seem unimpressed, as she walks away from the scene with a little child.

The hat worn by Death is a Hecker hat, in reference to the 1848 Hecker uprising, an attempt, originated in the Grand Duchy of Baden, to overthrow the monarchy.

The title reads in the original German: Der Tod vor der Schenke.

This series of plates was engraved under the supervision of Hugo Bürkner.

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