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Book/Printed Material Art of Dying. Ars moriendi

About this Item


  • Art of Dying.

Other Title

  • Ars moriendi


  • Block books are slim volumes, typically comprising 20 to 50 pages, produced by cutting text and images into wooden blocks (a process known as xylography). The production of block books reached its peak at a time when printing with metal letters (moveable type) was already established, around the 1460s--1470s. Worldwide only about 600 block book copies have survived, and they are among the rarest and most precious products of the printing press. The Bavarian State Library holds 40 of these books and eight fragments. Only a limited number of copies could be printed from the same woodblocks, as they were easily damaged in the process of printing or during storage. Particularly popular works therefore were reprinted from recut blocks as early as the 15th century. The Ars moriendi (Art of dying) serves the purpose of preparing the reader for the moment of death. This was a central medieval topic, since few things were dreaded more than a sudden death for which the victim was unprepared. On two sets of ten plates each, grouped in pairs and each with images and text, this book illustrates the temptations that the dying person suffers and provides guidance on how to escape each of these temptations. The 20 plates are preceded by a prologue on two plates and followed by an epilogue illustrating, on two plates, the triumph over death.

Created / Published

  • Germany : [publisher not identified], 1475.


  • -  Germany
  • -  1475
  • -  Block printing
  • -  Death


  • -  Title devised, in English, by Library staff.
  • -  "BSB shelfmark: Xylogr. 16"--Note extracted from World Digital Library.
  • -  Original resource extent: 24 unnumbered pages, paper : illustrations ; 26 x 19 centimeters.
  • -  Original resource at: Bavarian State Library.
  • -  Content in Latin.
  • -  Description based on data extracted from World Digital Library, which may be extracted from partner institutions.


  • 1 online resource.

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2021666798

Online Format

  • compressed data
  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

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Credit Line: [Original Source citation], World Digital Library

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Art of Dying. [Germany: Publisher Not Identified, 1475] Pdf.

APA citation style:

(1475) Art of Dying. [Germany: Publisher Not Identified] [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Art of Dying. [Germany: Publisher Not Identified, 1475] Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.