Graphical Arts Collection Man And Death

The Heinrich Heine University graphical arts collection „Man and Death“ (Danse macabre) with more than 6,000 original prints and drawings on the subject of “Man and Death” (14th-21st c.), one of the largest and most significant of its kind, is being catalogued and researched by the Department for the History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine. As a core of ca. 1,000 works the private collection of the surgeon Prof. Dr. Werner Block has been acquired after his death 1976. Since then, generous donations by artists and sponsors have enabled sustainable growth and exhibitions on regional and international level alike. Unfortunately, the whole collection is on stacks only and there is no permanent exhibition let alone some reproductions in the department's corridor. However, the custody has been publishing many well illustrated books and catalogues on several topics. For further information see


Following Heinrich Heine's description of the Cholera outbreak in Paris during carnival 1831, Alfred Rethel designed "Der Tod als Erwürger" 1847/48.

Jörg Vögele / Luisa Rittershaus (eds), Danse Macabre – Totentanz – Dance of Death. 40 Jahre Graphiksammlung Mensch und Tod der Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf (Düsseldorfer Texte zur Medizingeschichte 6), Cuvillier, Göttingen 2016.
Jörg Vögele, Anna Schiller, Luisa Rittershaus, Kelly Gisela Waap (eds), Dancing with Mr. D - Tod in Popmusik und Kunst, Wieland, Köln 2019.
Jörg Vögele, Anna Schiller, Luisa Rittershaus (eds), Dancing in the Dark. Die dunkle Seite des Tanzens, Wieland, Köln 2022
Publication series: Stefanie Knöll (ed), Schriftenreihe der Graphiksammlung ‚Mensch und Tod’ vols 1-6, düsseldorf university press 2010-15.

Picture: Wikimedia Commons; text: Jörg Vögele & Ulrich Koppitz.

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