Dance of death prints

The multifaceted collection group of Imagines mortis (Im.mort.) combines over 130 so-called dance of death prints with representations of dances of death. In addition to scholarly treatises, the collection includes predominantly facsimiles and valuable original editions. Among the particular highlights of the collections there are two editions of the "Heidelberger Totentanz" (Im.mort. 1 and Im.mort. 2) and several editions of the danse macabre with images inspired by Hans Holbein the Younger.

First representations of the dance of death can be found in the 14th century, in the form of mural paintings and monumental works on the walls of graveyards and cloisters. Through the invention of book printing, these representations, complemented by verses, became widely spread. The typical motif of the forced dance of the skeletons with living people of all estates varies. The "Imagines mortis" by Hans Holbein the Younger finally gave a new and artistic design to the dance of death.


Tautz, Barbara: Das Fach "Imagines mortis" der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek: Inhalt, Erschließung, Perspektiven der Bestandspräsentation – eine kritische Analyse. Diplomarbeit, Fachhochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung und Rechtspflege in Bayern; Fachbereich Archiv- und Bibliothekswesen; Fachrichtung Bibliothekswesen. München, 2011.

Repertorium Imagines mortis. Cbm Cat. 268