La danse macabre
de Tallinn

Tallinn fresco

Version française


Copyright (textes)
1996-2017 © Patrick Pollefeys

Once called Reval, Tallinn is now the capital of Estonia. There, in the St Nicolas' Church, lovers of the arts can admire a dance of death by Bernt Notke, who also executed a similar one in Lübeck. Tallinn's canvas goes back to the last quarter of the 15th century. The dance begins with a preacher standing on a pulpit. At his side, a dead one sitting on a big stone plays the bagpipe. Carrying a coffin, another corpse leads the pope to his own death. Then come the emperor, the empress, the cardinal and the king (in the same order as in Lübeck's dance of death). The last figure, a dead one, stands alone. The living one he was once paired up with has disappeared, as well as other scenes of the original dance of death.

Tallinn partie 1Tallinn partie 2Tallinn partie 3

There are many figures less in Tallinn's painting than in Lübeck's (five living ones instead of 24). Both canvases are of course very close in style; they show nonetheless some differences. In Tallinn there is a preacher, while there is none in Lübeck, and the dead musician plays the bagpipe instead of the flute. But still, there are astonishing similarities between Tallinn's and Lübeck's dances of death. A green landscape and a city make the background of both paintings. Death is represented by emaciated corpses that are visibly gesticulating. The living ones, on the contrary, all take a rather stiff pose : look at the cardinal!

comparaison cardinaux
Tallinn                 Lübeck