Predikerkirche, copy J.R. Feyerabend, Totentanz 1806. Photo: TES.

Basler Dance of Death

The Basler Totentanz fits into an expression from the beginning of the fifteenth century, the period of plague, war, hunger, the schism of the papacy, and probably originated from literature and poems about death.

These images were particularly common in the German-speaking regions of southern Germany, Switzerland, Alsace and western Austria.

In 1773, 32 years before its destruction, the topographer Emanuel Büchel (1705-1775) recorded the Basler Totentanz image by image in an album.

Johann Rudolf Feyerabend (1779-1814) painted the Totentanz in watercolour based on these copies in 1806.

There exists an accurate picture of this work. The Historical Museum in Basel shows the few remaining originals. (Source: F. Egger, Basler Totentanz, Basel 2009).