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Daniel Good Rare Books and Engravings

1777 Death and the Monk - Ch von Mechel (1737-1817) Dance of Death engraving

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Despite the title of the series, Mechel's plates are not based on Holbein's original drawings. On the other hand it was later (much later) discovered that they are copies of drawings made by the very young Peter Rubens.

Mechel (1737-1817) was engraver, art expert and seller of prints in Holbein's own city, Basel. Common logic tells us that he must have been related to those Mechel-brothers, who published Georg Scharffenberg's copy of Holbein's dance of death all through the 18th century.

Georg Wilhelm Fleischmann (1693-1776) had bought some drawings from the estate after the great art collector Pierre Crozat (1665-1740). The drawings were catalogued as genuine Holbein-drawings, and Fleischmann offered them to Mechel. To begin with, Mechel rejected the offer, maybe because he realized that they weren't genuine. Later on he had second thoughts — and he obtained permission from their new owner to copy them.

Copper engraving.

14.9 x 11.7 cm