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Luke Clennell’s Dance of Death

October 30, 2021
by the gentle author

Twenty years have passed since my father died at this time of year and thoughts of mortality always enter my mind as the nights begin to draw in, as I prepare to face the spiritual challenge of another long dark winter ahead. So Luke Clennell’s splendid DANCE OF DEATH engravings inspired by Hans Holbein suit my mordant sensibility at this season.

First published in 1825 as the work of ‘Mr Bewick’, they have recently been identified for me as the work of Thomas Bewick’s apprentice Luke Clennell by historian Dr Ruth Richardson.

The Desolation

The Queen

The Pope

The Cardinal

The Elector

The Canon

The Canoness

The Priest

The Mendicant Friar

The Councillor or Magistrate

The Astrologer

The Physician

The Merchant

The Wreck

The Swiss Soldier

The Charioteer or Waggoner

The Porter

The Fool

The Miser

The Gamesters

The Drunkards

The Beggar

The Thief

The Newly Married Pair

The Husband

The Wife

The Child

The Old Man

The Old Woman

You may also like to take a look at

Luke Clennell’s London Melodies

Luke Clennell’s Cries of London

5 Responses leave one →
  1. October 30, 2021

    The stuff of nightmares to me – although I always admire the skill of art and especially engravings; And I never have taken to Halloween as it’s become in this day and age, with its trick or treat

  2. October 30, 2021

    I don’t have anything clever to say but thankyou for sharing these. I appreciate that.

  3. October 30, 2021

    Thank you – what a wonderfully vigorous collection! You might like this, on a sequence in Estonia:

  4. Hilary permalink
    October 30, 2021

    They are beautiful, remind me a bit of the skeleton fight in Jason and the Argonauts film!

  5. October 31, 2021

    Thank you for bringing these to our attention. They are so energetic and bursting with fascinating details. There is a brilliant mix of pathos and humour, that bewitching combination. I found The Beggar image especially poignant, as he is the only one searching the sky imploringly for Death, but Death has not come. Are they at the Bishopsgate Institute?

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