Printed in black ink on one side of leaves only, so that pairs of printed and blank pages alternately face each other.
Schreiber, W.L. Handbuch (3. Aufl.), IV, p. 261, 267-312 (ed. IV A)
BM 15th cent., I, p. 4 (IB.23) (leaves printed on both sides)
LC copy has inserted: leaf 18 (sig. s) of the Biblia pauperum, Nördlingen, 1470 (block book with German text; cf. Schreiber, IV, p. 93, 98, col. 1) and 2 late impressions from early wood blocks (one being a copy of the illus. on leaf 3 from another ed. of the Ars moriendi). Provenance: A.A. Renouard (bookplate).
Gift of Lessing J. Rosenwald, 1943-1975; bookplate of A.A. Renouard.
Also available in digital form on the Library of Congress Web site.
The Ars moriendi ("The Art of Dying") are two related Latin texts dating from about 1415 and 1450 which offer advice on the protocols and procedures of a good death, explaining how to "die well" according to Christian precepts of the late Middle Ages. It was written within the historical context of the effects of the macabre horrors of the Black Death 60 years earlier and consequent social upheavals of the 15th century. It was very popular, translated into most West European languages, and was the first in a western literary tradition of guides to death and dying. About 50,000 copies were printed in the incunabula period before 1501. There was originally a "long version" and a later "short version" containing eleven woodcut pictures as instructive images which could be easily explained and memorized. The authors of the two texts are unknown, but assumed to be Dominican churchmen, as they echo Jean de Gerson's publication, the Opusculum Tripartitu, containing a section named De arte Moriendi. Gerson may have been influenced by earlier references in 'compendia of faith' dating back to the thirteenth century, but the content was uniquely his own.