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The Dance of Death

One of the bestsellers of 1538 was a book of woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger called The Dance of Death. Later editions were also popular (more illustrations were added), and at least six copies were actually bound in human skin. Two of those are now at the John Hay Library in Providence, Rhode Island.

The woodcuts portray Death as an entity in the form of a skeleton or a corpse. The theme is that death comes for us all, whether rich or poor, young or old, deserving or undeserving. Sometimes death is waiting in the wings; other images show him surprising the one he comes for.    

If you'd like to see more, there are 27 illustrations from The Dance of Death at Atlas Obscura. It's part of their 31 Days of Halloween series.

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