The Medieval Dance of Death Gallery

Switzerland is famous for its Alps, waterfalls, neutrality, and banking. Of the greatest interest to me as a photographer, however, was its storehouse of Medieval and Late Medieval art. This gallery showcases one of those treasures. 

The Spreuer (or Müllen) Bridge in Lucerne has more than sixty triangular paintings that compose the "Dance of Death" series. They were commissioned in the early 17th century by the Council of Lucerne to remind citizens of the ever present risk of death and to encourage a healthy life style. At the time, Switzerland was besieged by war and pestilence so the commission fit the the times. The images are rich in the multiple depictions of Death as a skeleton. Each image was underwritten by a family and, in general, the coat of arms of the husband's family is on the left and the wife's on the right. 

The paintings are triangular because they are tucked into the eves of the bridge. While not directly open to the rain, they are open to moisture, heat, spiders, bugs, and birds. They were difficult to photograph and required extensive cleaning, post-processing, and digital framing for presentation in this gallery. Where I have used the © symbol, I am obviously not claiming the paintings, which belong to Lucerne, but am claiming my photography, post-processing, and presentation.

Because of their exposure to the elements, and perhaps the time since the last restoration, some images are simply of lesser quality than others. Nonetheless, I have included all that I could photograph and process since all are interesting and give insight to the late Medieval mind and culture. It should be noted that some images are not included because they were partially hidden by structural elements and could not be photographed in their entirety.

The presentation of these images is copyrighted by Jon Meyer © but the original images are not since they are artwork that is the property of the City of Lucerne. My copyright extends only to my photograph, post-processing and presentation of the images. I do not license or sell prints of images from this gallery.